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AUDIT IS CRITICAL OF SURPLUSES IN GENERAL, WATER FUNDS

The state comptroller's office is taking the Village of Lakewood to task for accumulating an excessive fund balance.

An audit of the village books for the fiscal year that ended May 31, 1996, shows Lakewood's general fund had an unreserved, unappropriated fund balance of $694,523, a third of the total 1996-97 budget. In addition, the water fund had an unreserved, unappropriated fund balance of $421,087, or more than half of its total budget.

The audit recommended the Village Board review Lakewood's financial history "so that budgeted revenues and expenditures are realistic and year-end balances can be accurately estimated and a resonable amount applied to the reduction of taxes and/or user fees."

Otherwise, the comptroller's office said the surpluses could be transferred into established reserve funds.

Mayor Anthony Caprino did not dispute the figures but said numbers don't tell the whole story.

"The state has their own way of calculating things. But we have already reduced that (general fund surplus) by $90,000. We paid for a truck and did some sidewalk work, so it is not that much now," Caprino said.

The mayor also said $125,000 from the water fund was about to be paid to a contractor for upgrading work. "We use the (general) fund balance to keep property taxes steady. We have done that for the last couple of years. As far as the water department is concerned, the cost of water to the village was increased by the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities last year, and we did not pass that increase on to the consumer," he added.

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