Audit talk turns to landfill

BST auditors say deal not considered a one-shot

— Auditors presented their findings from the 2010 Financial Report at the Colonie Town Board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 20, where Republican Councilman Dan Dustin tried to get to the bottom of whether the operating agreement for the landfill is a sound idea or not.

Representatives from Bollam, Sheedy, Torani and Co. LLP presented the year-end financial statements from the Town of Colonie to the public for the first time. What was revealed was the current deficit in the general fund as well as a discussion over whether the operating agreement for the landfill should be considered a one-shot gimmick to close the deficit.

Bill Freitag of BST said the town was very well prepared for the audit when his firm looked at both the financial statement audit and also the compliance audit. George Person, also of BST, said the town reported a 2010 surplus of $3.7 million but a $6.5 million deficit in the highway fund.

“It sounds worse than you think,” said Person, who added that the town’s villages had originally opted out of the collection of the town sales tax, which he said would have been allowed if the town had not raised taxes in the town’s park fund.

The town has been paying off the highway fund’s deficit since 2008 and has paid its last $6.5 million to the fund this year. Person said the debt should be paid off in the fiscal year 2011.

“Over the last few years, the deficit was no more than a reflection of using the finance fund to fix it,” Person said. “Everything else has relatively been holding their own.”

Auditors also noted that the town’s biggest expenditures were in salaries and benefits, which Freitag said made up 60 percent of the town’s total expenditures.

Dustin soon began asking questions about the town’s current financial situation, as he asked whether BST had performed any professional services and analyzed what he referred to as the “lease” of the town’s landfill to Waste Connections, Inc.

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