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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Columbus – Budget Development Practices (2012M-225)

Released: March 8, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to assess the financial condition of the Town’s general and highway funds to determine if the budgets were reasonable for the period January 1, 2011, to August 1, 2012.


The Town of Columbus is located in Chenango County. An elected five-member Town Board, comprising the Town Supervisor and four Council members, governs the Town. The Town’s annual budget for the 2012 fiscal year is $770,000.

Key Findings

  • The Board and Supervisor did not develop sound budgets based on actual current needs and/or past activity. Instead, the Board’s adopted budgets included revenue estimates that were consistently less than revenues actually received, and expenditure estimates that were consistently more than actually spent. Even though the over-expenditures largely offset the excess revenue, the Board raised taxes and issued debt that was largely unnecessary.
  • While the Board continued to under-budget revenues in fiscal year 2012, its adopted budget for 2013 is more closely based on realistic revenue and expenditure figures that take actual past revenues and expenditures into account.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a plan to reduce the amount of unrestricted, unappropriated surplus funds in a manner that benefits Town taxpayers.
  • Continue to consider historical trends in developing budget estimates that are consistent with the Town’s actual revenues and expenditures.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

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