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A claim that Sloan lost $51,358 in the first six weeks of the new Hamburg/Sloan Municipal Gas Utility was denied Wednesday by Sloan Mayor Kenneth Pokorski.

Only if the utility's more than 800 customers in Sloan had not paid their bill could the village have lost that much, Pokorski said.

He said the utility's next financial status report won't be issued until next spring but declared, "We are definitely in the black."

Pokorski said the alleged $51,000 debt stemmed from new Village Board members' "misinterpreting data."

Instead of a loss, the $51,358 figure -- contained in the village's annual financial report -- actually represented gas bills sent out before but not payable until after the report's May 31, 1999, cutoff date, Pokorski explained Wednesday. At the time, the utility had been operating for only about six weeks.

The $51,358 was collected after the closing date of the annual report, the mayor said.

The issue was raised at the Dec. 14 Village Board meeting by trustee Dean Lach, an outspoken critic of Pokorski elected in March. When Lach claimed the village had lost money in the utility, the mayor replied, "You're not qualified to understand whether we're losing money."

Pokorski said he subsequently asked the village accountant to review financial data to see if Lach's assertion was true.

Rather than losing money, the new utility recently received rebates totaling about $34,000 that will help it toward the goal of cutting villagers' gas bills by 10 percent, Pokorski said Wednesday. "We're heading in that direction," he said.

Officials in October reported an average savings of about 5 percent for the first five months of the utility's existence.

From now on, utility savings will be reported annually, not monthly, Pokorski said Wednesday.

"There will be no more of this publishing savings results until next April or May, then subsequently it will be once a year. There is no good reason to do it monthly; the only thing we should be doing on a monthly basis is paying our bills," Pokorski said.

"Basically, what we are is a new company in a start-up position working to control our costs. The object is not to gain or lose money, it's to create a savings for the villagers," he said.

"I don't mind (opponents) looking and following procedures to get the information they want. Where I do have a problem is when they start trying to tear down programs and misinterpreting data and mis-reading financial reports," the mayor declared.

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