Having A Well Funded Surplus Fund Is Important For A Town

There are two convincing arguments made by Busti town officials regarding a fund balance policy approved by the Town Board last month.

Jesse Robbins, Busti town supervisor, and three members of the board feel the town should have a robust fund balance so that the town can better weather any emergencies that may arise and be in a position of financial strength to pay for unexpected expenses as they arise. They point to unbudgeted herbicide treatments, the ability to pay cash for capital improvements rather than take out loans and the ability to help with community benefit projects like ball fields or concession stands without having to raise taxes or tell taxpayers they can’t help.

The flip side of the coin, as articulated by Dr. Rudy Mueller, is that Busti taxpayers have paid large tax increases in past years and continuing to build the town’s reserves to the levels included in the fund balance policy means town taxpayers shouldn’t be expecting a tax decrease any time soon. Mueller notes, rightly, that town taxes no longer include the Hazeltine Library in Busti or the Lakewood Memorial Library, yet the town’s budget isn’t decreasing to reflect the taxpayers’ support of the libraries through their school taxes.

Having a well-funded surplus is important. It allows the town to deal from a position of strength when taxpayers ask for projects to be done and should mitigate some of the large tax increases the town has pursued in the past when its financial position wasn’t as strong. Mueller makes a good point, though, that Town Board members shouldn’t abuse the taxpayers’ trust either. The reserve fund proposal as approved makes sense, but board members shouldn’t unnecessarily raise taxes solely to fund the reserves either.