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Batavia Council learns details of city’s successful fiscal turnaround

BATAVIA – This city, which was saddled with seven-figure operating losses a few years ago, has turned the corner, accumulating $1.5 million in general fund and unassigned balances, the City Council was informed at a conference session Monday.

A vigilant Council, a new Audit Advisory Committee and an administration that takes a close look at all spending are credited with fiscal success. City Manager Jason R. Molino, who in 10 years has steadily steered the return to operating in black ink, explained the steps leading to the turnaround despite such factors as a 40 percent increase to nearly a half-million dollars in the state retirement contributions.

The city got back its A1 rating from Moody’s Investment Services after five years when income exceeded expenditures. The fiscal year ending March 31 had a surplus of $217,542 and an unassigned fund balance of $1.3 million compared with a year ago, when the fund balance was $246,000.

The water and sewer funds also had cash surpluses, thanks to projects that lessened property owners’ usage.

Molino cites as factors for concern – besides rising retirement costs and health care benefits – as static taxable assessed value and upcoming union contract negotiations.

Molino now wants to spend $900,000 to replace a deteriorating salt storage barn and for improvements in the Police Department, which now occupies what was for decades City Hall. Overdue sidewalk repairs and new fire equipment are also on the wish list.

Money is also needed for employee benefits and resurfacing of two heavily traveled Southside streets.