State finds Fulton in moderate fiscal stress

By Ashley M. Casey

The depletion of Fulton’s available fund balance has brought the city under moderate fiscal stress, according to a new audit from the New York state comptroller.

According to a release from Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the city’s fund balance fell to $136,068 at the end of 2012, down 84 percent from $841,747 in 2010.

Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. attributed the fiscal stress to the poor economy, rising employee costs and declining property values.

“We’re doing our best,” Woodward said.

In an effort to cut costs, the city of Fulton has reduced its workforce by 10 percent in the last three years. Fulton has also reduced aid to the local library and ended ambulance contracts. These measures have saved the city about $800,000 since 2010.

“We’re not squandering money,” Woodward said. “We don’t even have a full-time attorney.” The mayor said he has been prosecuting most of the claims in code court himself.

“There’s only so much you can cut and still plow the roads,” the mayor added.

Fulton has applied to the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments to aid in the process of solving the city’s financial woes. The FRB will closely review the city’s finances and make recommendations for generating revenue and cutting costs. The board may also be able to make grants or loans of up to $5 million through the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program.

City officials have reviewed the comptroller’s audit and have agreed to take corrective action. The full report is available at osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/cities/2013/fulton.pdf.

 

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