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townhall 120The Lansing Town Board approved a Fund Balance Policy and the Reserve Policy that will help town officials plan future major purchases and projects, while insuring there is money to spare for emergencies.  The Town currently has about $3 million of spare cash.  That will now be allocated among several reserve funds, while some is kept available to handle emergencies.  Lansing Supervisor Ed says the policy is quite conservative when compared to state guidelines, but will be reviewed and adjusted as needed annually.

"Those policies are critical as far as guidance for the future," LaVigne says.  "We have the Fund Balance Policy and the Reserve Policy so that when we close the books next year we'll evaluate to see if there is any money left over, and, if so, where it should go.  If we don't have money left over we can make adjustments to cut back or see where we need to find money."

The policy states, "The unrestricted Fund Balance of each fund should be maintained at a minimum of 25% of current operating expenditures and making sure to account for upcoming issues that may impact special districts.  The Board has agreed to start off with the optimal Unrestricted Fund Balance for the next year or two;  A Fund should be maintained at $947,000 (approx. 50%); B Fund should be maintained at $120,000 (approx. 50%); DA Fund should be maintained at $630,000 (approx. 50%) and DB Fund should be maintained at $660,000 (approx. 50%).  The optimal amount was decided through careful review of the past operating expenses and from meeting with the department heads to make sure to account for possible future issues and necessities."

Taking a conservative approach, the Board agreed to keep six months of operating expenses, based on an analysis of the heaviest spending months, available in the fund balance, while funneling any extra funds into reserve funds.

"That would take you through the busy part of the plowing season and the busy part of the paving season," says LaVigne.  "When you look at a monthly average, depending on which months you pick you could be high or you could be low.  I asked the Highway Department to do an analysis and give me the three heaviest months in the paving budget and for the plowing budget."

The new policy will make planning easier for the departments because when the reserves are funded the departments will be assured of having money when it is needed.  LaVigne says that he will drive around town with Purcell again to get up to date information on which to make budget decisions.

"I value his judgement," LaVigne says.  "My job is to find the money at a reasonable pace.  If we find there is money available, like we had this year for repaving Myers Park, we can do more.  Our mortgage sales tax was estimated at $200,000, but was actually $275,000.  We had planned for Myers Park to be repaved in three phases over three years.  So with extra $75,000, and because oil prices are low, Cricket came back to me with a plan to do this all in one year.  The Board allocated that money as a one time expense.  Next year if we have a little more money in our budget, we'll push hard to see what we can do."

The Capital Reserve policy strives to fully replenish capital funds within a four to 10 year period.  It specifies four major reserves, for highway equipment, technology, parks & recreation equipment, and buildings.  LaVigne says his goal is to add $200,000 each year to a highway equipment reserve.


The Highway Department has the highest expenses of all the town departments, as well as the largest number of employees.  It has seven large trucks used for hauling and plowing with an estimated life span of about 14 years, in addition to other equipment and trucks.  At one time Lansing's over 93 miles of roads were resurfaced every ten years.  But budget cuts starting in 2009 meant it would take longer for some roads to be resurfaced.  In 2011 then Highway Superintendent Jack French said it would take 25 years to resurface all Lansing's roads under the cuts.

"Two years ago I met with (Highway Superintendent Charlie 'Cricket' Purcell) and Jack and we went over every road," LaVigne says.  "They showed me what a 10 year road was, a 15 year road, and a 20 year road.  Beech Road is a 20 year road.  They showed me Hillcrest, one of those roads that will need maintenance.  It's a two year project that will cost $175,000 each year."

Money withdrawn from the reserves for equipment purchases or capital projects must be approved by the Town Board.  Each reserve is subject to specific conditions.  While the money maintained in the fund balance is about twice as much as is recommended by the State, he says it is wise to start at a level all board members are comfortable with, see how well it works for the town, then make adjustments during annual reviews.

"The good news is we're moving," LaVigne says.  "We had a consensus of five-zero, so we're in our comfort zone."

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