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August 11, 2010


DiNapoli: Town Of Wales' Property Tax Increases Were Unnecessary

The Town of Wales failed to adopt realistic budgets and, over the past 10 years, continued to raise taxes despite excessive fund balances, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"All across New York, families are watching every dime," DiNapoli said. "The Town of Wales should be watching every dime, too. Property taxes are high enough. Raising taxes unnecessarily just causes more pain for taxpayers. Excess fund balances should be used to reduce property taxes."

The audit covered the period January 1, 2007 to April 1, 2010.

DiNapoli's auditors found that the board adopted budgets that were based on unrealistic estimates of revenues and expenditures. As a result, fund balances that were appropriated as funding sources were not used and continued to accumulate. The town accumulated a general fund unreserved, unappropriated fund balance of $1,035,143, which was 153 percent of the ensuing year's budgeted expenditures of $675,546.

Despite the increases in the fund balances, the board did not reduce property taxes. Thus, the vast majority of property taxes raised in the past 10 years were unnecessary. DiNapoli's audit also found an additional $222,000 that was being held in four reserve funds. Town officials had no documented plans to use these reserves, DiNapoli said.

DiNapoli recommended the board:

  • Adopt a policy to reduce fund balances to reasonable levels and address the necessity for and use of reserve funds;
  • Adopt budgets that include realistic estimates for revenues and expenditures; and
  • Develop a multi-year financial plan to establish the goals and objectives for funding long-term operating and capital needs.

Town officials generally agreed with our recommendations, and agreed to take corrective action.

For a full copy of the audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2010/wales.pdf

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