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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Sweet Home Central School District – Financial Management (2016M-207)


Released: September 16, 2016 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to review the District’s financial management practices for the period July 1, 2012 through March 18, 2016.

Background

The Sweet Home Central School District is located in the Towns of Amherst and Tonawanda in Erie County. The District, which operates six schools with approximately 3,200 students, is governed by an elected seven-member Board of Education. Budgeted appropriations for the 2015-16 fiscal year totaled approximately $72 million.

Key Findings

  • The Board did not adequately manage the District’s finances by ensuring that budgets were realistic and by properly planning for and using fund balance.
  • District officials improperly set aside more than $6.5 million in a debt reserve.
  • Because District officials did not properly analyze cash flow, they unnecessarily issued $6 million of short-term debt each year, incurring $81,000 in debt issuance and interest costs over the past four years.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that budgets include realistic estimates of appropriations, revenues and appropriated fund balance and reserves.
  • Identify the composition of the funds in the debt reserve, properly report and use statutorily restricted money to pay debt in the debt service fund and return all other money to unrestricted general fund balance.
  • Properly analyze cash flow periodically throughout the year by using actual cash on hand, revenues and expenditures to ensure short-term financing is issued only if needed.

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