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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Sullivan County – Fiscal Stress (2013M-81)


Released: July 19, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine the financial health of the County and identify causes of any identified fiscal stress from January 1, 2011, through August 8, 2012.

Background

Sullivan County has a population of 77,547, is located in the southeastern part of New York State, and includes 15 towns and six villages. The County is governed by a nine-member Legislature. The County’s total 2013 appropriations for all funds was approximately $192.7 million.

Key Findings

  • The County is fiscally stressed. While the Legislature and County management are aware of the County’s financial position, and they have developed reasonable budgetary estimates for most major revenues and expenditures, the County’s financial condition has declined over the last few years. For the years between 2007 and 2011, the County has spent $6.7 million more than they received; three of those five years have suffered operational deficits. In addition, general fund balance is artificially inflated due to a $4.5 million Nursing Home receivable that is unlikely to be collected. Because of these shortfalls, County management has eliminated 188 positions over the last three years. These staff reductions could result in significant delays for necessary services and an increased workload of the remaining staff.
  • The County does include a five-year capital plan in their adopted budget. However, they do not utilize a multi-year financial plan for estimating operating revenues and appropriations.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a plan to address the general fund’s overstated fund balance resulting from a very significant liability of the Nursing Home receivables that will not be received and consider the collectability of those receivables when estimating fund balance that is available for appropriation.
  • The Legislature should develop a comprehensive multi-year financial plan to establish objectives for funding long-term needs.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236