St. Lawrence County – Financial Condition (2013M-46)

Issued Date
May 02, 2013

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the County’s financial condition for the period January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2012.


St. Lawrence County, located in northern New York, has a population of approximately 112,000 and encompasses 32 towns, one city, and 13 villages. The County is governed by the Board of Legislators comprising 15 elected members, one of whom serves as the Chair. The County’s budgeted expenditures for fiscal year 2012 totaled approximately $204.9 million for the general fund, $19 million for the County road fund, and $3.1 million for the road machinery fund.

Key Findings

  • Due to the consistent appropriation of fund balance as a budgetary funding source, the County’s fund balance in the general fund decreased 68 percent from fiscal year 2007 to 2011. During that period, the unexpended funds remaining at year end declined from an $11 million surplus in 2007 to a deficit of $1.7 million at the end of 2011, leaving the County with no financial cushion for managing unforeseen events. The County has relied on short-term debt issuances in recent years for cash flow, which will cost the County $260,742 in interest payments.
  • The Board has not developed policies and procedures for determining and maintaining an adequate level of fund balance, and has no written multi-year plans to address long-term financial and capital needs.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a fund balance policy that establishes a reasonable amount of fund balance to be maintained in order to meet the County’s needs, provide sufficient cash flow, and reduce or eliminate reliance on short-term borrowing.
  • Develop a long-range plan to ensure that sufficient resources will be available to meet future operational and capital needs. Monitor progress against the plan and take appropriate action to modify the County’s financial management strategies based on actual performance and economic events.