The auditor for the Town of Yorktown told the town board last week the nearly $1 million shortfall in the town’s state pension cost projections last year could be attributed to multi-year retroactive raises in the settled PBA and CSEA contracts.
“If we didn’t settle all these contracts this would not have happened,” Alan Kassay of O’Connor Davies told the board members in response to published reports documenting a town board approved transfer from general fund balance of $972,000 on April 1, four months after a $2.6 million pension payment was made to the state by town Comptroller Patricia Caporale.
Caporale claimed she informed the town board about the difference during a November 15 public hearing on the 2014 budget, but councilmen Vishnu Patel and Nick Bianco, who publicly criticized Supervisor Michael Grace for not informing the board about the pension cost discrepancy, insisted they were kept in the dark.
“This is wrong. This is fuzzy math,” Patel remarked. “The budget passed December 17. The town board wasn’t told until April 1. Who knew and why didn’t they tell us? This money should have been in the budget. We had the money. This is not the right thing to do. This doesn’t add up.”
While conceding the pension system is “like a moving target. It’s hard to get a handle on,” Bianco reiterated the lack of communication from Grace was the bigger issue.
“The question is still why wasn’t the town board told earlier about this sum of money?” Bianco said. “We should have been told before we passed the budget. We’re looking at how to correct this in the future. It’s one of the biggest things in our budget.”
Bianco also pointed to a resolution passed by the town board on October 4, 1995 and February 1, 2005 regarding a policy that requires the town comptroller to inform the board about all town financial matters.
In the 2013 budget, approximately $1.6 million was estimated by Caporale and Grace, but the payment sent to the state on December 13 was more than $2.6 million.
The town is first notified about the projected state pension costs in June by email through a link that is sent to the Comptroller’s Office and the Supervisor’s Office. Two more emails are sent in September and October when the budget for the following year is being prepared. He said records show someone from the Comptroller’s Office accessed the information from the state in September and October.
Caporale explained her office accesses the state pension system website on a monthly basis but only received the rates, not the actual amount due.
“It’s a matter of timing. It’s a timing difference,” said Kassay, who mentioned it was possible the town could receive a credit from the state after everything is recalculated.
Grace has downplayed the state pension shortfall, maintaining the town had sufficient funds in its general fund balance to make up the difference.