1. How are you managing to keep Penfield's bond rating so high, what specific decisions, strategies or actions have been implemented?
We are very proud of Penfield’s bond rating. We were upgraded to Aa1 in the spring of 2016. Significant factors in the town’s rating, are the low debt burden and the moderate pension liability. This Aa1 rating reflects that the town’s current debt obligations are judged to be of high quality and subject to very low credit risk. The town’s leadership continues to have a judicious approach to borrowing with the community’s long term needs in balance with affordable tax rates. This past August, Moody’s affirmed Penfield’s Aa1 rating even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, to quote the release “We do not see any material immediate credit risks for Penfield.”
2. Total Town revenues are budgeted to be down about $538k with A00-1000-6000-006 Approp Prior Year Encumbrances ($369k) and A000-1000-3001-0000 Municipal Aid ($142k) being a majority of that shortfall, please explain.
Prior year encumbrances are not revenue sources to the current budget. By 12/31 of each year, if the Town has obligated an expense either through contract or through ordering of supplies or materials, the funding to pay those bills is carried forward to the ensuing fiscal year. This funding is not part of the current year adopted budget and planned expenditures. The obligations belong to the prior fiscal year.
A00-1000-3001-0000 Municipal Aid was reclassified as a pass through revenue in 2020 so for 2021, the revenue line is A00-1000-2750-0000 for $142,930.
3. Are there any headcount or staffing levels changes anticipated from 2020 to 2021? There is no employee/staff headcount overview that has been shared in previous years in the budget presentations.
An employee headcount bar graph depicting 5 years of data has been included in the Preliminary Budget presentations since 2017. Also, the benefited employee distribution is included in the filed Adopted Budget for each of those years. The 2021 budget includes funding for one additional mechanic in the Department of Public Works.
a. The former Recreation Director has not been replaced, is there a plan to do so?
The Recreation Director position has not been replaced. We currently have an Acting Director.
b. In account A00-3410-0001-1011 Fire Marshall Full Time Employees increases by $57k, please explain.
The funding for one employee was moved from A00-3620-0001-1011 Building Department Full Time to the Fire Marshal account as duties align more with the Fire Marshal Department responsibilities.
c. In account A00-1220-0001-1012 Supervisor Part Time Employees increases by $33k, please explain.
The former Director of Development Services is now working in a part time capacity as we transition through staff restructuring.
4. It appears that $668,688 in fund balances are being used for the 2021 budget or about 3.2%, about the same as last year, please explain the rational for using this amount.
Yes, the contribution from fund balance to General, Highway, Library, Sewer and Special Parks is consistent with the appropriation to the 2020 budget. As is the past, the funds are targeted for scheduled equipment purchases and infrastructure projects. The costs for such capital investment is relative to inflation rates so the anticipated amounts are steady.
5. How much money is in the Towns fund balances or year to year “contingency/reserve/surplus”?
The current fund balance amounts are detailed in the 2019 Annual Update Document and the Town’s financial statements posted on the Town website. The total in the General fund is $11,431,265. Of this amount, $1,281,987 is classified as unassigned. The remaining amount is classified as either non-spendable, restricted or assigned based on future use. The uses of restricted and assigned balances include: equipment, capital and infrastructure improvements; amounts appropriated to ensuing budgets, anticipated benefit increases and encumbrances in 2020. The Highway fund balance is $2,858,367 and the Library fund balance is $633,544. Both of those funds are restricted by law and can only be spent for highway and library needs, respectively. The 2020 amounts will be recognized when the ledger is closed and audited in 2021. At the close of 2019, the audited, unassigned fund balance in the General Fund, is approximately 12% of current appropriations, consistent with the Town’s Fund Balance Policy, the recommendations of credit rating organizations; and the National and NYS Government Finance Officers Association.
6. Are there plans to outsource any current town provided services in 2021? If so, please explain anticipated savings.
As has been the approach since 2017, mowing of the majority of Town property is accomplished through contracted services. The spending analysis shows this as the cost effective choice as compared to using town forces. At this time, no other outsourcing is anticipated.
7. Please explain the Towns assessment situation, how many homes/businesses are being reassessed this year (2020) and what is the plan for next year (2021)?
There were no properties re-assessed for the current 2020 tax roll. We are currently investigating a way to safely do a Town-wide update for the 2021 Tax roll, which is finalized in July.
8. Every year the Tax Evaluation total amount increases, please explain how much of this is new home builds verses changes in homeowner assessed values.
Last year we had about $32m in new construction/improvements. This does not translate directly into municipal taxable value due to a variety of exemptions applied to some of the properties.
9. Have any planned 2020 work projects been deferred or cancelled in order to save money? If so, which specific projects were deferred or cancelled for 2020 in order to save money?
Roadwork, specifically some oil and stone resurfacing projects were deferred to next year. Given the lighter traffic volumes due to the pandemic, roads were reevaluated in early summer and the decision was that the work could safely be deferred to 2021.
10. What specific revenue sources have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Town realized less revenue from recreation programs, lodge rentals, court fines, as well as a decrease in the sales tax distribution from New York State.
11. Will the 2021 town budget data or reports be available to download by residents to review?
The 2021 Tentative, Preliminary and Adopted Budget in .pdf format are all available on the town website in the Finance Department section. The budget documents for the past six years can also be found in the Finance section.
12. Is there a planned town tax rate increase anticipated for next year?
There is no tax rate increase proposed for 2021. The anticipated rate will remain flat at $2.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value. For a typical home valued at $205,000 this equates to $569.90.