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Amityville finances show improvement

Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place on Feb.

Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place on Feb. 26, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Amityville Village’s general fund balance ended fiscal year 2015 in the black, the first time since 2008, according to an independent auditor’s report the village released last week.

The general fund balance for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2015, was $203,039, up from a $356,318 deficit at the year’s start, according to the report from Islandia accounting firm Skinnon & Farber. The balance swing, along with continued yearly budget surpluses and a decreased reliance on short-term borrowing, could bring the village off the New York State list of fiscally stressed municipalities and bump up a bond rating that was once near junk status, officials said.

That, in turn, could allow the village to finance big projects like downtown redevelopment and a long-awaited repaving for its 30 miles of roads, said Mayor James P. Wandell, who hailed the report as a validation of his administration’s budget and staffing policies but warned that the village still faces challenges to solvency.

“This is a nice milestone, but we’re not done yet,” he said. “We’re not out of the woods.”

Trustee Nick LaLota, the village’s budget officer, said the creation of a contingency line in the budget of approximately $200,000 per year and consolidation of some Village Hall positions were improving municipal finances. Several one-time revenue items last year — including a $233,000 settlement Suffolk County paid for acquisition of land for Nautical Park — were also factors, he said.

The village will continue to press for reduced spending on health care for some former officials and police compensation, he said.

“With police costs now amounting to 57 percent of the budget and growing because of contractual pay raises,” he said, “there’s still a good sense of urgency. If we’re successful, we’ll be able to pave 30 miles of road. If not, we can expect that 57 number to grow into the 60s.”

The village’s posture on these matters has alienated some residents and drawn condemnation from former Mayor Peter Imbert. The three-trustee majority has said it wants to rescind the health benefits of those former officials, who include 79-year-old former mayor Emil Pavlik and 82-year-old former trustee Joe Slack.

Wandell seemed to address these issues in an email to residents Thursday morning: “My job is to find solutions that benefit every Village resident and sometimes that requires reviewing traditions and programs that only benefitted a few,” he wrote.

The auditor’s report also suggested the village make a number of changes to strengthen internal financial controls and operating efficiency.

“We take the feedback seriously and are already implementing improvements,” LaLota wrote in an email.

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