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April 5, 2012

 

State Audit: Monroe-Woodbury CSD Increased Tax Levy $9.3 Million While Holding $13.6 Million Surplus

Financial Shifts Not Fully Disclosed


The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District overestimated appropriations, leading to more than $13.6 million in operating surpluses, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The school district failed to fully inform the public of this surplus while increasing the tax levy for the last three fiscal years by a total of $9.3 million.

"The district collected more than was needed and amassed large surpluses without full transparency," DiNapoli said. "Monroe-Woodbury should adopt our recommendations to improve district operations."

The Monroe-Woodbury district, in Orange County, covers seven schools with 7,400 students and has 2011-12 budgeted expenditures of $149 million. State law bars school districts from accumulating reserve funds beyond what is needed to address long-term debt or planned expenditures.

The audit found that the district consistently overestimated expenditures. During the three years covered by the audit, 2008-09 through 2010-11, the accumulated fund balance exceeded the statutory limit of 4 percent of the ensuing years' budgets.

DiNapoli's auditors also found that the district did not comply with the general municipal law requiring district officials to make audit reports readily available and failed to submit 12 required quarterly reports to the Comptroller's office related to a $6 million debt issuance in 2003.

DiNapoli's office recommends that district officials:

  • Develop budget projections that consider the prior year's financial results and ensure that the fund balance assigned to cover expenditures is actually used.
  • Create a plan to use the surplus fund balance to benefit district taxpayers by reducing property taxes, paying off debt or financing one-time expenses; and
  • Make sure the budget process, audited financial statements and audit reports are available to the public on the district's website.

The district's full response took issue with some of the audit's findings. Its response is included in the audit report. To view the audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/schools/2012/monroewoodbury.pdf or click here for a copy of the Monroe-Woodbury CSD audit.


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