Town investigates sewer fund shortfall
CLOVERDALE -- You could hear a pin drop in town hall Thursday night during a special meeting of the Cloverdale Town Council.
Council members have been dealing with a serious shortfall in the sewer fund. Since clerk-treasurer Patti Truax alerted the council to the issue last month, a freeze has been placed on the fund.
"A lot of money has been spent out of the sewer fund," Truax said during a regular council meeting in May. "The fund is in the dire straits."
In addition to the budget shortfall, council members wanted to clear up a discrepancy in the sewer fund from April. A representative from Keystone, the financial software used by the town, presented the council Thursday with detailed financial reports dated from January 2010 to April 30, 2010.
The representative, Lisa Hill, said all her reports balanced and Truax has reconciled with the bank up to April 30. But Hill had no way of telling what the exact issue could be without looking into it further, she added.
Town Attorney Allan Yackey tried to establish if the discrepancy could be the result of an "operator error." Recently, duplicate checks were issued to a vendor and a citizen. The payees returned both checks and Hill explained a simple void could be done by Truax to resolve the bottom line.
The reports also showed about a third of the sewer fund goes toward bonds.
"In the grand scheme of things, it's little things that add up," said Hill, as she reviewed the reports with the council.
Other communities are in the same seat financially, Hill said. She suggested the town consider moving some expenditures to the depreciation fund where allowed by law.
Resident Don Gedert pointed out the decline in revenue (for the sewer fund) could be linked to the economic decline. He noted the foreclosure rate in Cloverdale and added the lack of help in Truax's office could be a part of the issue.
The town voted to defund the deputy-clerk's position effective January 2010, leaving Truax without an assistant.
"The clerk has less help," Gedert said. "I hope the council takes that into consideration."
Council members requested Keystone e-mail more detailed financial reports for a closer review.