City committee concerned with budget picture at halfway mark

The year is half over and the City of Dunkirk Finance Committee took the time to look back on expenditures and revenues for the first part of 2013 at its meeting Monday.

Chair Michael Michalski asked the committee to look over the budget expenditure and revenue reports for the “50 percent mile marker” which ended June 30.

Committee members had several questions about expenditures which were running over budget and very close to the budgeted amounts, including almost twice the budgeted amount for harbor master.

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce explained that this was due to the replacement of a roof.

Council Member Stacy Szukala asked about overtime in one of the general fund budget lines.

“We are over on the overtime. So, are we going to continue to run that number into the negative?” she asked.

Fiscal Affairs Officer Richard Halas said the city will have to do so and at the end of the year, if there is no where in the budget to draw compensating funding from, there will be a deficit.

It was also noted the general fund repair and maintenance budget line was at 99.2 percent of the budgeted amount and that the rent/lease budget line for Floral Hall utilities was also over budget.

For the water fund it was noted contractual services for the water treatment division were at 97.1 percent and that overtime for water distribution was at 29 percent. Michalski added the 29 percent was a “really good” place to be in that line.

The committee then looked at the status of anticipated revenues.

It was noted many of the anticipated revenues were at zero percent.

“I see a lot a shortfalls that are making me kind of nervous. Even though they are small, when you add them all together they are not small,” Szukala said.

Halas said this was a matter of timing since some would be paid after the June 30 cutoff for the report.

However, problems with industrial wastewater billing worried the committee. City Treasurer Mark Woods explained personnel changes for sampling and testing has put billing behind in May and June. This will affect several budget lines for the wastewater charges as well as the fees for violations.

“We budgeted we were going to estimate $50,000 in violations. It’s at zero percent and we are seven months into the year. We have five months left to make that up $50,000. That sounds like it could be really awful,” Szukala said.

She also brought up an issue with V3 Studios being paid $500 on top of the $1,000 per month contract to clean out the recording studio. She noted if common council had been involved, volunteers could have been enlisted to help and any items could have been cataloged and either determined surplus or used elsewhere, but everything was thrown out.

“Two guys put in 35 hours a piece at $30 an hour for $1,500 … I don’t think they went about that correctly. I don’t think they understand that this is not a private business. This is taxpayers’ money, this is city equipment, this is city everything. … All these things keep happening and I understand it was just $500, but at the end of the day we have huge issues and every nickel and every dime we’re trying to save,” Szukala added.

The committee also reviewed its procurement policy and as a result said it would look into its grass cutting service.

It was noted in Halas’ treasurer’s report that taxes are due to city hall by Wednesday.

The next meeting will be held Aug. 12. The committee plans to host its insurance representative at one of its August meetings.