To the Editor:
I wrote this Letter as an FYI to alert our residents to: 1) the “invisible” nature of our Enterprise Funds, 2) rising costs of our water services and 3) the new threats to existing G.C. financing challenges in capital spending — both necessary and unnecessary.
(You know what I mean by unnecessary.) Quality water is absolutely a vital service.
Some residents may not be aware that our G.C. Village budget excludes “Enterprise Funds.” They are legally separate from the Village’s finances, and disclosures at official Budget planning sessions and public meetings. In other words, the finances of the Water District, Pool, and Tennis Facility are hidden, from public view — until the full numbers are revealed in the G.C. Annual Report — which hardly anyone reads — and is not for public view until several months after the fiscal year ends on May 31st. Ideally, we should have “consolidated” reports — to include Village and Enterprises finances. By the way, these separate entities are still under the aegis of the GC Dept of Public Works headed by the very-capable Joseph DiFrancisco.
Historically, the profits and losses changes of the Enterprises have been insignificant. However this year, and going forward, their finances have become meaningful. For example, the water district issued, in February 2020, about $40 million of debt — for improving our water quality, a new water tower (on Old Country Rd.) costing about $8 million, and our Pool had a deficit of about $1 million owing to lower attendance.
Nevertheless, losses and increased expenses for debt service need to be paid — by Village residents — either in Village taxes or higher water bills. Both of these burdens are now being manifested. As mentioned in my 9/11/2020, study should reiterate that our Village books do not consider debt issued for water purification upgrades as “debt” or as Village debt at all. What is for sure.. bond borrowings have been hiked by over $40 mil.
Finally, our quarterly water fees have recently been hiked, twice: by 5% as of June 1st 2019 and another 10% as of June 1st of this year. I would guess that as of June 2021, we will see, perhaps, a larger double-digit hike. One reason for the unexpected $500,000 rise in cost of the tower is the selected custom color, sky blue, of the painting of the new water tower. The original contract for the tower was signed in 2017 for $6.7 million. There is currently a dispute with the contractor over the extra cost of the job. Of course over the 3-year span from 2017 inflation has adversely affected material and labor prices.
George M. Salem
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