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Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Colonie – Financial Condition (2012M-64)


Released: August 31, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to review the Town's financial condition for the period January 1, 2010, to July 12, 2011.

Background

The Town of Colonie is located in Albany County with a population of about 80,000. The Town Board is the legislative body responsible for managing Town operations. The Town's operating funds' budgeted appropriations for the 2011 fiscal year were approximately $92.8 million.

Key Findings

  • As of December 31 2008, the Town's general fund and landfill fund had deficits that totaled $29.3 million and $7.6 million. The general fund deficit was caused by the adoption of budgets that did not include reasonable estimates of appropriations and revenues, and the landfill deficit was caused by the recognition of landfill closure costs and transfers of cash to the general fund to subsidize operations. The Town's financial condition has been improving since 2008 due to increases in the tax levy and budget restructuring. In addition, in August 2011, Town officials signed a 25-year agreement to operate the landfill that has effectively eliminated these deficits at the end of 2011. However, Town officials now need to address the reported $576,000 deficit in the highway fund.
  • Town officials need to improve the budget format to make it more informative and useful, and adopt structurally sound budgets where recurring revenues fund appropriations.

Key Recommendations

  • Adopt structurally balanced budgets with conservative, realistic estimates that enable operations to be financed without relying on fund balance or non-recurring revenue sources, closely monitor budgetary estimates against actual results throughout the year and take corrective action as required.
  • Use a budget format that includes:
    • Actual revenues and expenditures for the last completed fiscal year
    • The current year's budget, showing revenue estimates and appropriations as amended to date
    • Estimated fund balance, with a breakdown of the amounts appropriated, unappropriated, and restricted
    • A descriptive budget summary message

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