By Matthew Saari

For the second year running, the Village of Granville improved its fiscal stress score.

The state Comptroller’s Office’s annual fiscal stress reports examine the fiscal health of village and cities throughout the state. To ascertain how municipalities are trending fiscally, the state examines six distinct categories, with each category assigned a point value. The higher the points assessed, the more fiscally stressed a community is deemed.

Scores ranging from zero to 44.9 are considered no designation; scores ranging from 45-54.9 are susceptible to environmental stress; scores from 55-64.9 have moderate environmental stress; and scores from 65-100 have significant stress.

Granville finished at 27.1 points, down from 37.1 last year.

The Village of Granville’s fiscal stress score compared to other villages across the state.

“Overall it’s pretty good,” said village clerk Rick Roberts. “We’re continuing to trend in the right direction.”

Just two years ago, Granville was deemed the second-most fiscally stressed village in the state with a score of 56.3. Since then, however, local officials have taken steps to turn that trend around and cut the score in half.

“We’ve made a good bit of ground,” Roberts said.

Items the village is still being dinged on include fund balance, operating deficits, cash position and debt service.

The bulk of the points, 18.75, are due to the village’s relatively low general fund balance. At the end of 2019, the general fund stood at $149,753.

Roberts said the village is in the process of building up its reserves but in 2018, the Comptroller audited the village and criticized the village for having low reserves in the sewer fund and thus, that account has been a priority. Once the sewer reserves have been bulked up, Roberts said, the focus will be building up the general fund balance.

“It’s difficult to build reserves everywhere,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time.”

The village was assessed 3.33 points for operating at a deficit for one of the past three years. In 2017 Granville brought in $2,282,514 and expended $2,325,522. Since then however, the village has operated at a surplus.

“Moving forward we would not expect a deficit,” Roberts said. “Those points should fall away.”

Another 3.33 points were accrued in the cash position category. Essentially, Roberts said, the state wants municipalities to have enough funds to cover a month’s worth of unexpected costs.

“Basically you need one month’s expenses in the bank,” he said.

The village’s average monthly expenses equate to $197,890 while its cash position equates to $135,402.

Lastly, the village took a 1.67-point hit in the debt service as a percentage of revenue category.

“What percent of all your revenue goes to service debt,” Roberts explained.

For the past three years, the village expends almost 11% of its revenue to pay for debt, most of which, Roberts said, is tied up in municipal upgrade projects.

“The biggest thing we pay is for the water plant,” said Roberts, noting $160,000 is earmarked for the water plant bond payment while another $80,000 goes toward paying off wastewater upgrades.

Of note, no villages located in Washington County nor its neighboring counties were labeled significant, moderate or susceptible to fiscal stress. Neighboring Whitehall was assessed five points, which is up from its 2018 score of 3.3 points.

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