“In today’s fiscal climate, budget transparency and accountability for our local communities is a top priority,” said DiNapoli. “By auditing municipal finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”
The board relied on fund balance to finance part of the town’s operations, reducing unexpended surplus funds in the general fund from more than $304,500 as of Jan. 1, 2009 to less than $40,500 as of Dec. 31, 2013. The supervisor and the board did not use prior years’ budget-versus-actual operating results when preparing and adopting budgets.
The supervisor relied on a certified public accounting firm to maintain town accounting records without oversight, resulting in inaccurate records. In addition, the accounting firm erroneously commingled debt and grant proceeds for capital projects with the town’s operating funds.
The board’s practice of appropriating fund balance to finance recurring annual operations, along with significant unplanned costs to repair the village’s water tower, have caused substantial financial decline in both the water and sewer funds. The board also adopted budgets that appropriated more fund balance than was actually available in the water fund to finance operations for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years.
The board did not conduct an annual audit of the clerk-treasurer’s books and reports. Village officials adopted budgets that underestimated revenues and overestimated appropriations. Further, the board has not developed a comprehensive long-term financial plan.
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the adopted budget are reasonable. The board has also adopted rate increases of approximately 5 percent in water and sewer rents because the revenues generated have not been sufficient to finance yearly appropriations. The adopted budget relies on a 16 percent property tax increase to finance the general fund. The board passed a local law which allows the village to override the tax levy cap.
For access to state and local government spending and 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.