State critical of proposed 2023 Newburgh city budget

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Broadway, Newburgh

NEWBURGH – The State Comptroller’s Office has reviewed the proposed Newburgh city budget for 2023 and issued a critical report of the spending plan.

Among the concerns is that the budget, drafted by City Manager Todd Venning, appropriates $587,250 of fund balance for the water fund, but the problem is the water fund only has $261,871 of fund balance to appropriate. Therefore, the city would have a $325,379 budgetary shortfall in the water fund, the audit said.

It also said the city could potentially face shortfalls base on revenue estimates for sanitary user fees, sewer usage and sale of metered water.

The report also said budgeted overtime funding for the police department of $850,200 is likely underestimated by a total of at least $384,000.

It also found that the budget does not include a contingency appropriation in the general fund; does not include a tax overlay, which could potentially create a revenue shortfall in 2023; and includes a tax levy of over $23.6 million, just $16,000 from exceeding the tax levy limit.

Among recommendations to the city are:

  • Develop a plan to maintain fund balance at a reasonable level to ensure funds are available in case of unanticipated expenditures or a shortfall in revenues during the fiscal year.
  • Review the amount of fund balance appropriated for the water fund and amend to the amount that is available. Review the estimate for sewer usage revenue and amend as necessary.
  • Review the estimates for New York State Touring Route Program revenue and expenditures and amend as necessary.
  • Lower the estimate for sanitation user fees and the sale of metered water or pass a resolution to raise the sanitation and water rates prior to the adoption of the budget.
  • Review the estimate for police overtime and increase it to an appropriate level or implement changes in procedures to manage costs within budgeted amounts.
  • Consider including a reasonable estimate for contingencies in the budget.
  • Consider establishing a reasonable estimate for a tax overlay in the budget.
  • Adopt a budget that includes a tax levy no greater than the tax levy limit (tax cap) unless a local law is adopted to override the limit.