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Supervisor rejects talk of deficit

Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters vigorously maintained Monday night the town did not run a deficit last year, as one councilman said two weeks ago.

Councilman Joseph Collins said at the board's Feb. 13 meeting that the town accountant told him the town budget was overspent by almost $800,000.

"Mr. Collins, you have a level of credibility here as a member of this board," Walters said Monday. "If you're going to make a statement like that you should ensure the statement is correct. It's unfair to the town, it's unfair to the hard workers -- hard work that's being done by employees and officers of the town -- to make such erroneous statements."

The town budgeted $39.58 million in expenditures, and actual expenses were $37.96 million, Walters said, noting that the town underspent its total budget by $1.62 million. He said measures were taken during the year to cut spending when the town lost revenue.

Collins, meanwhile, stood by his statements. He said he sat down with the town's accountant, Wayne Drescher, again last week and asked him if there was a deficit in spending in 2011.

"He said, 'Joe, think of it this way. We had a hole. We spent more money than we brought in,' " Collins said.

He said Drescher said two departments overspent, something that doesn't usually occur.

Drescher told The Buffalo News he expects that an accounting of general-fund expenses and revenues will show expenses exceeded revenues by more than $700,000.

He added that the town used money from appropriated fund balance -- funds that were included in the budget as revenue -- to make up the difference.

Drescher said there is not a structural deficit in the town budget. Operating deficits can occur from unexpected events throughout the year.

Walters said that since the town spent some of the appropriated fund balance that was included in the budget, it did not run a deficit last year. If the town had to use unappropriated fund balance, that would indicate a deficit, he told The News.

The supervisor said the audit of the 2011 budget is being prepared and will be made available to the public.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com