Whitehall fiscal health ‘good’

Whitehall fiscal health ‘good’
The Whitehall Village Board (R-L: David Chaplin, Timothy Watson, Pat Norton, Teresa Austin and Mayor Phil Smith.

Whitehall Municipal Center.

By PJ Ferguson

The village of Whitehall is in good fiscal health, according to the annual fiscal stress report by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

While Whitehall’s fiscal score saw a slight uptick from last year’s 3.3 points to this year’s five, both scores are substantially below the 45-point threshhold for susceptible fiscal stress.

The increase stems from 3.33 points accrued from the village operating at a deficit.

Their expenditures, totaling $3,096,215, were about $15,000 more than the village’s revenue.

The reasoning for this, said Mayor Phil Smith, is loans that “came due” on a sewer project that was approved by a previous administration.

In comparison, Granville is in worse fiscal shape, scoring 27.1 points. While still considered to have no designation of fiscal stress, they are much closer to the mark, but actually down from previous years.

Much of Granville’s points come from also operating at a deficit, a larger one of about $80,000, and keeping a low fund balance.

Along with the annual fiscal stress reports, the State Comptroller’s Office also examines a number of factors to determine environmental stress including poverty, income and unemployment levels, among an assortment of other contributing aspects.

The village of Whitehall is currently under a susceptible amount of environmental stress, according to the report, chalking up 33.3 points, only slightly above the 30-point benchmark for that designation.

One contributing factor is the percent of households receiving public assistance sitting at 21.35%.

Of the 904 households in the village, 193 receive government assistance. For this factor, 6.67 points were tacked to the environmental score. Though, for comparison, Granville village’s number is much higher at 32.29%, scoring up 20 points, the highest amount that can be granted for this factor.

However, Granville has a much lower unemployment rate than Whitehall. At 10.67%, the unemployment rate for Whitehall more than doubles Granville’s rate of five percent. For Whitehall, this earned them another 6.67 points with Granville receiving none.

“These factors impact the community but we do not directly control them,” said Smith.