Prudent budgeting and proactive financial planning by officials in the Binghamton City School District have helped to improve the district’s fiscal condition, according to an audit issued today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“School officials in Binghamton have worked diligently to keep their district’s finances on the right path under difficult circumstances,” said DiNapoli. “Smart budgeting, identifying cost-savings opportunities and reaching shared-services agreements have enabled the district to weather reductions in aid and limited growth in local revenues. However, careful fiscal management, which includes long-range planning, is essential to improving the district’s financial condition.”
Auditors noted that district officials meet regularly with the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) to monitor and evaluate the budget, including fund balance and spending trends. The BOCES provides a number of services to the school district, including central business office functions.
During the audit period, July 2008 through May 2013, the district employed a number of measures to monitor and improve the budget. This included:
- Utilizing accounting software to help identify over-spending within specific budget lines;
- Amending district policies and procedures to create cost-saving opportunities; and
- Decreasing the use of contracted services and freezing spending in certain areas.
In addition, these measures have allowed the district to control tax levy growth rates. From 2009-10 through 2011-12, Binghamton’s average annual tax levy increase was 3.4 percent. This was lower than the average for other upstate school districts (3.5 percent); other small city school districts (3.7 percent) and other school districts within Broome County (5.2 percent).
Last month, under DiNapoli’s fiscal monitoring system, the city school district was designated as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” This designation allows for early actions by local officials to prevent school districts from ending up in severe fiscal stress.
School district officials agreed with the audit findings and their comments are included in the final report.
For a copy of the audit, visit:
For the complete list of school district fiscal stress scores, visit:
For a copy of the fiscal stress commonalities report visit:
For a copy of the Comptroller’s recent report on school district revenues, visit:
For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. 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.