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Port Chester Board Re-Examines Budget Transfers

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – The Port Chester Board of Trustees were presented with the Village’s audit exit report for the 2010-11 fiscal year by auditor Drescher & Malecki LLP on Tuesday evening.

Most of the post-report discussion centered on the village’s policy on budget transfers for the various village departments. According to Leonie Douglas, the village treasurer, in the past department heads and Village Manager Chris Russo were allowed to transfer funds within the budget as they saw fit, as long as they didn't over-expend the budget.

However, with the down economy, the Board of Trustees is looking to take a more hands-on role as it pertains to budget transfers.

"They want to know about the changes in the budget line," Douglas said. "They are keeping a closer eye on the village, which is a good thing."

Trustee Saverio Terenzi said the change allows the board to be privy to the changes in the budget more than anything else.

“Our village is in such a state where, when we identify problems, we’re not going to stop key departments from making necessary changes,” Terenzi said, referring to the Board's authority.

According to auditor Thomas Malecki, the village would have to implement a policy change.

"There are a variety of ways to get where you need to be without calling (the board) every two weeks," Malecki said.

Malecki outlined the implementation of a new system that employs a “sub-object” line, which allows for more allocation leeway for Russo and the various department heads.

"There are going to be accounts that we overspend," Trustee John Branca said. "It's inherent in this type of operation to overspend."

One of these accounts is the village's overtime fund. By law, the village is obligated to pay overtime to employees even if the money is not allocated by the budget. However, while the village has been forced to transfer funds to the overtime fund out of necessity, it has still remained within the overall budget figure.

"We only have a problem when we have a revenue deficit," Branca added. "I've never seen the village go into deficit spending since I've been on the board."

The board plans to act on a budget adjustment policy at its next meeting on Feb. 6.

Mayor Dennis Pilla expressed his appreciation for the job done by Drescher and Malecki.

“We just shifted to you guys this year and it comes at a time where our financial conditioning is improving,” Pilla said to Malecki. “I think we get a lot more for a lot less and you have been worth every penny.”

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