New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Campbell-Savona Central School District, Cortland City School District, Fort Edward Union Free School District, Glens Falls Common School District and the West Seneca Central School District.
“In an era of limited resources and increased accountability, it’s critical that schools make every dollar count,” DiNapoli said. “By auditing school district and charter school finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget are reasonable. The district consistently appropriates fund balance that is not needed to fund operations. Two of the district’s reserves totaling $1.14 million appear to be overfunded. The district’s tentative budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
The district has overestimated appropriations for payroll, health insurance, retirement, debt and utilities by $3.2 million. After the district’s planned use of $500,000 in fund balance, the remaining unassigned fund balance is only $200,000, or 0.4 percent, of the ensuing year’s appropriations. The district’s preliminary budget complies with the tax levy limit.
Although the board adopted reasonable budgets that included realistic estimates based on historical or known trends, the district relied on the appropriation of fund balance to finance recurring expenditures and, as a result, the budgets were not structurally balanced. As of June 30, 2014, the district reported an unrestricted fund balance that totaled $35,463, or .33 percent, of the ensuing year’s budgeted appropriations. District officials have developed a multiyear financial plan to address current and long-term financial trends.
The board did not adopt structurally balanced budgets that funded recurring expenditures with recurring revenues for the general fund for 2012-13, 2013-14 or 2014-15 fiscal years. Furthermore, the district’s general fund operating cash balance decreased by approximately $370,000 in one year. As a result, the district had to issue a tax anticipation note to meet cash flow needs during the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The district had no operating cash on hand and very little fund balance at the end of 2013-14 fiscal year. The district incurred significant operating deficits in fiscal years 2010-11 through 2012-13. In addition, the district issues short-term debt to provide temporary cash flow and has improperly used a total of $7.5 million in reserve fund cash to help with cash flow in fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14.
For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit OpenBookNY. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.