LISBON - A village councilman is concerned a sharp decline in the general fund balance could mean problems in the future if the trend continues.
Council President Roger Gallo expressed his concern after village Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner reported at Monday's meeting that the general fund currently has a $41,000 balance with two weeks left in the year.
"If you're telling me we're only $41,000 from being in red ink, I don't think that's good," he said.
"That does cut it close, but when you only have so much revenue ..." Wonner said.
The village ended 2011 with a general fund balance of $78,000, based on general fund spending of $1.49 million. The general fund covers the police, fire, fiscal, income tax and zoning departments, the mayor's office, council and solicitor.
While Wonner viewed the balance decline from $78,000 to $41,000 as troubling, she said it should be viewed in context with several other factors, such as the fact village revenue has largely remained flat in recent years while operating costs continue to increase.
"My appropriations haven't changed much in the past three years," she said..
Wonner said the village has also remained in the black while continuing to undertake a number of costly projects, although not all of them have a direct impact on the general fund.
"It might not be great, but considering everything, it could be worse," she said.
Gallo said his criticism was not directed at Wonner but meant as a warning for council to keep a sharper eye on finances, especially if spending continues to outpace revenue, which could force them to make some difficult decisions.
"There's no malice behind it, and I'm not saying spending is out of line. I'm just wondering whether we're at the point where we have more government than we can afford," he said.
Meanwhile, council passed a proposed 2013 budget on first reading that sets the total village budget at $3.14 million, including $1.35 million for the general fund departments.
Before any of this discussion occurred, council approved general fund expenditures totaling $23,000 for continued renovation of the old street department garage so it can be reused and to make the semi-annual payment on the loan used to fund the downtown renovation project of the late 1990s.