WELLSVILLE - Due to an accounting error, the village sidewalk construction program is on hold until the issue can be fixed.
Assistant administrator Rick Williams had promoted the project and its 50-50 matching plan, whereby the village would pay half the cost of pouring new sidewalks on residents' property. Anticipating a positive response from Wellsville residents, $25,000 was set aside for the program, which began June 1. Williams says he has had to turn away several prospects, however, until the problem can be corrected.
"We're just trying to figure it out. We're just on hold right now," said finance committee chairman Tony Cataldo.
The discovery of what Cataldo called a "glitch" in the state-administered Uniform Accounting Network (UAN) computer program used to manage village finances has meant that the $25,000 that was set aside isn't presently available.
According to Cataldo, the trouble began in 2012 when a sum of $125,000 was transferred from the village general fund into the fire department fund toward the purchase of a pre-owned ladder truck for the department.
Following the truck purchase last year, council had planned for the department to repay the money back into the general fund at a rate of $25,000 per year over five years. However, the UAN program moved the full $125,000 owed by the fire department out of the fire fund at the end of 2013 instead of the $25,000 that had been planned by council.
"We were giving them a timeframe to pay it back, but the system wants it back immediately," said Wellsville fiscal officer Cassie Bloor. She said the auditor's office has no issue with the five-year repayment scheme, but the program insists upon single, lump-sum payments.
Since the computer believes the entire sum is in the account, any attempt to put the more money into the fund will fail, Cataldo says. "It shows that whole $125,000 going back to the general [fund], but it's just in the computer - it's not money," he said. He also said council cannot vote to transfer money from the fire department back into the general fund, since fire funds are sourced from levy money, which may only be used for the purpose approved by voters - in this case, for the fire department and not sidewalk construction.
With the money not where it's supposed to be, $10,000 was taken out of capital outlay to pay for the sidewalks already completed and presently under construction. Further sidewalk work will be put on hold until the problem can be fixed with help from the auditor's office. "The money will probably be there in a couple of months," Cataldo said.