Evans Supervisor Mary K. Hosler knew the town had some financial issues after she took office in 2016, but she never realized the extent of the crisis until that November, when the town tried to float a revenue anticipation note and nobody bought it.
The town had run out of money, vendors went unpaid for months and the town had missed debt payments.
The crisis was so bad that Erie County issued a short-term loan of $980,000 and the Bank of Evans agreed to lend the town $600,000 – just so the town could cover its payroll.
But today, Hosler said, instead of running a deficit, the town’s general fund is $3.17 million.
Most of the problems stem from a $12.6 million water project approved years before Hosler took office. The town combined the $12.6 million borrowed for the water project with the rest of the town’s funds. A state audit showed that $2 million of the bond money was used to cover operating expenses, mostly for the town’s troubled water operations.
“They were just borrowing instead of raising taxes to meet their budget needs,” she said. “They were borrowing from next year’s receipts and creating a bigger hole.”
She said the town has not taken out a revenue or tax anticipation note since her first year in office. But digging out of the hole has not been easy. There were spending and hiring freezes, layoffs and tax increases.
Read More: Digging out of Evans’ financial crisis: ‘It’s finally a win’