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City of Ogdensburg borrows for cash flow needs

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By LARRY ROBINSON

The City Council has authorized the borrowing of up to $2 million to shore up municipal coffers because of what officials say is a problem with cash flow.

The council voted unanimously Monday night, with no discussion, to approve a resolution allowing the City Comptroller to authorize the issuance of a Tax Anticipation Note that will be used to fund some of the daily operations of city government.

A type of municipal bond, tax anticipation notes are sometimes used to help pay for special construction or infrastructure projects. But the bonds can also be used as a way to inject fresh money into city coffers when the timing of tax revenues flowing into the city does not always match cash outlays.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said Monday’s council action authorizing a tax anticipation bond not to exceed $2 million is a routine part of conducting business, and serves as a stopgap measure to make sure the city’s bills are paid on time. As an example, Mr. Pinkerton pointed to general fund expenses of approximately $1,340,000 last week. He said the flow of tax dollars into the general fund does not always coincide with the date that city bills come due.

“So we have weeks like that,” Mr. Pinkerton said after Monday’s council session. “Let’s say we don’t have the money in the bank, then we use the tax anticipation note. When the money comes in we just take it out, and put it back in that fund, and pay off that bond.”

The City of Ogdensburg is operating on a $19,102,179 budget for the 2014 fiscal year that began in January. The budget’s general fund is $12,156,911, a figure that represents a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year.

The city’s roughly $12 million general fund makes up approximately 64 percent of the municipality’s overall budget. The general fund is comprised of real property taxes, state revenue sharing, sales tax, fees, grants and other revenue sources, according to city officials. The bulk of that general fund amount is generated through a property tax levy of $4.5 million, followed by sales tax of about $3.2 million and state revenue sharing of approximately $1.8 million.

The total taxable value of property in the city for 2014 is $272,277,781, according to city budget records. The tax rate in the city is $16.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The city’s biggest general fund expenses are the police department at approximately $3.4 million, the fire department at $3.2 million, public works at $2 million and general government services at $1.5 million annually.

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