TOWN OF WATERFORD — After being millions in debt just more than a decade ago, the Town of Waterford is finally debt-free.
Longtime Town Supervisor Dale Gauerke said with the federal and state governments in debt, the town, under Town Chairman Tom Hincz’s leadership, has decided to take a different path.
“The town wants to be one example of government that can be debt-free and live within its means,” Gauerke said. “It’s been a goal for quite some time.”
With a total budget of more than $3.1 million this year, the town was able to pay off its last installment of $179,382.65 in June for debt tied to road improvement projects, and fire and public works equipment.
In 2003, the town was at its highest debt amount of $1.8 million, but chipped away at it and now sits with a reserve account of $120,614, according to Town Treasurer Heather Stratton.
Gauerke said Hincz is credited with creating funds for capital improvements so that the town can hopefully avoid borrowing in the future.
“Being mortgage-free is every American’s goal, being debt-free was ours,” Gauerke said.
Hincz could not be reached this week for comment.
Town Supervisor Teri Jendusa-Nicolai said she thinks some residents seemed to take the news for granted after it was announced at a Town Board meeting in July.
“After we announced that the town was debt-free, there was just silence. I told people they should be getting up and clapping. This is huge. There are not a lot of municipalities that can say that. This comes from years of handling things properly,” Jendusa-Nicolai said
Town officials were so excited, they took a picture of Stratton preparing to take the last payment to Community State Bank on June 20.
As an example of the Town Board’s fiscal prudence, Jendusa-Nicolai pointed to a July debate over an ordinance change proposal that would have allowed ATVs on town roads. Jendusa-Nicolai said it was a good example of how the town leadership chose to focus on the fiscal impact of such an ordinance change.
“The town would be on the line for all the signage. If there was an accident, you’re exposing the town to liability. We’re conservative in our approach and it’s helped,” Jendusa-Nicolai said.
“Sometimes you’re not going to make everybody happy, but you have to do what is truly best for everybody.”