Dissolution hangover lingers in Hanover

HANOVER — One full month into the new year, the problems caused by Forestville’s last-minute dissolution aren’t yet in the rearview mirror.

Hanover officials are still puzzling out how to stretch dollars, provide services and make sure all of the town’s residents are taken care of.

At a recent town board workshop, Councilman Louis Pelletter asked Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo how things were going with the road crews in the now-hamlet of Forestville.

“I’d like to know if we’re within budget, and how you’re coming with the equipment, and what about the sidewalk plow? Are you buying it? Where is all this money coming from?” he asked.

D’Angelo said the highway department is saving money where it can, trying to repair and retro-fit accessories onto existing equipment rather than buy new, and that so far, none of the expenses have been “devastating.”

“We had an expense to make sure the trucks are in good shape … (and the tractor used for plowing sidewalks) was there (already),” he said. “What we did was we purchased a spreader for the back of the tractor, and as of right now, we’ve got an idea about what we’re going to do for the plow itself.”

From here on out, he noted, it will “just be some fabrication” to make sure everything does the job it needs to do.

The repairs D’Angelo has made have come out of his budget, he said, but he does keep track of what expense was necessitated by which neighborhood — be it one of the hamlets, like Forestville, or by the rest of Hanover.

Town Supervisor Todd Johnson said the board has to keep a few other things in mind regarding the former village of Forestville.

“The very first thing is that we have a total asset of funds, of currency turned over, of $309,275.56 to the town of Hanover. … (That is) earmarked as funds for Forestville,” he remarked.

Town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro asked if the funds were marked “general” or if they were separated for specific services or debts.

“That’s where we have a problem,” replied Johnson. “That was (put) into one account. Now, what we had was the general (fund) being at $326,664.95, and (there was) $17,389.39 being left out to clear any outstanding checks, payroll and severance packages.”

Beyond that, there did not appear to be organization of the funds.

“With that being said, with the general ledgers that we did receive, and the breakdown of the spreadsheets, at this point in time it’s kind of hard to decipher, so as we go further down the road, we’ll be able to look at which funds are appropriated for which departments and what accounts moving forward,” he stated. “We do know that we have a liability in the month of March for approximately $130,000 for water debt service.”

Passafaro said that Johnson’s statement answered his question, and that the answer is no — funds are not separated. According to those numbers, then, after the water debt service is paid, there will be less than $180,000 in the Forestville piggy bank.

“That is probably okay for a village, but not okay for a town,” remarked Passafaro.

“So that does have to be differentiated,” reasoned Johnson.

There will also be expenses related to the fire department, said Johnson, particularly for the repayment of debt incurred by the purchase of a new firetruck.

“The funds that were allocated were only budgeted through May 31 of 2017,” said Johnson. “Due to the recent Nov. 8 election, there was nothing that could be submitted to the real tax property service for the year 2017. The timing of the town’s fiscal budget and how (village) fiscal budgets operate, there’s going to be a six-month gap of funding.”

For now, that means the town is going to have to squeeze nickels so hard that pennies will pop out.

“At this point in time, funds we do have available, we’re going to have to utilize to provide services, but at that point (we need to) pull in the reigns, too, to encumber this money and to keep it (for needs in the former village),” said Johnson.

Officials are also looking into obtaining consolidation grants and ascertaining ways to make water billing more efficient in Forestville.