Although property tax revenues continue to decrease, the City of Salamanca's annual audit reflects a surplus and an increased bond rating to an A- status.
In a report from R.A. Mercer & Co. of Cattaraugus to Mayor Jeffrey Pond and the City Council on Wednesday, auditors said, "The state agreement for revenue sharing of the Seneca Nation of Indians Allegany Casino money has allowed for substantial opportunities, investment into fixed assets and expansion of services and development for the city."
Cathie J. Bridges, certified public accountant, discussed the audit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, which contained "no significant deficiencies." The favorable report is reflected in an increased bond rating from BBB to an A- rating, which will give the city lower rates for long-term borrowing.
Auditors further indicated, "A recent purchase of real estate is currently being considered for development (a water park on State Park Avenue) and to provide future growth for the city. Projects have enhanced the appearance of the city property through the use of grants."
Some concerns were expressed by auditors, saying, "The continued decrease in tax revenue as a percentage of the budget remains a concern, as does the current economic recession. City development and growth will be dependent on continued federal and state aid grants."
Several recommendations were made in the audit: Those administering grants should provide copies of information in a grant file in the clerk's office; grant-related accounting records should be reconciled on a quarterly basis; and the accounts-payable processing system should be revised to prevent checks being issued without all required signatures, the delay of payment from the processing date, and checks issued in excess of invoice amounts. Auditors noted refunds were received for processed payments in excess of the invoice amount.
The city's fiscal records for last year closed with a surplus of about $2.5 million. City assets including equipment were up by $1 million. The city's long-term debts are $2.7 million and include bonds for firetrucks, ambulances, public works equipment and a new roof for City Hall dating back to 2004.
During a brief Council meeting that followed the audit presentation,the Council approved several work change orders for the ongoing new court facilities at City Hall; approved closing certain streets during the annual Falling Leaves Festival Oct. 2-4; and approved a request from the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce for a fireworks display Oct. 3 at the former Erie Railroad yards on North Main Street.
Meeting as the Public Works Commission, Pond and the Council heard from Public Works Superintendent Raymond Wilson that the city will apply for FEMA funds for water main and electrical damages from the Aug. 10 storm.
Urban Engineers of Buffalo was authorized to perform two load ratings on the Center Street Bridge, now operating as one lane and due for replacement next year. The state Department of Transportation is requesting the tests.
Wilson said replacement work on the West State Street Bridge due to open in October is on schedule. Deck work was completed Wednesday.