New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the following local government and school audits were issued.
The board and district officials properly established the district’s nine general fund reserve funds totaling $10.9 million but did not use the reserve funds and could not demonstrate that $8 million held in seven of these reserves was reasonable or needed. In addition, the board and district officials did not adopt a comprehensive written reserve fund policy, transparently fund reserves or take appropriate action to address overfunded reserves.
The board and district officials did not properly manage fund balance and reserves. As a result, officials withheld funds from productive use and may have missed opportunities to reduce the tax levy. The board and district officials overestimated appropriations by $9.7 million (11.6%) between the 2017-18 and 2020-21 fiscal years and appropriated fund balance totaling $6.1 million that was not needed. They also reported fiscal year-end surplus fund balance ranging from $2.4 to $3 million (10.3 to 12.8%) of the next year’s budget (during the same period), which exceeded the 4% statutory limit by $1.4 to $2.1 million. In addition, a tax certiorari reserve was improperly funded by $304,641 and a debt reserve, with a balance of approximately $1 million, was not used to pay debt-service costs during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years as required.
Ontario-Seneca-Yates-Cayuga-Wayne Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) – Budget Development
BOCES officials’ budget development process was ineffective and did not ensure reasonable budget estimates. Budgets developed for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years had overestimated appropriations totaling $65.5 million and overestimated revenues totaling $41.2 million. This resulted in net operating surpluses totaling more than $24 million over the three-year period. Appropriations for three equipment accounts and two printing service accounts were consistently overestimated by approximately $11.5 million and $3 million annually. In addition, department heads utilize worksheets to prepare budget estimates, which are then required to be manually input into the financial system by the business office, which is inefficient and increases the likelihood of errors.
Although BOCES officials compensated employees the auditors reviewed in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts, 40 employees received unearned wages totaling $25,948 of which $19,985 was not recouped. In addition, it cost BOCES approximately $111,000 annually for time spent in the review, approval and manual entry into the financial system of the timesheets utilized by certain bargaining units/departments.
Oxford Academy and Central School District – Transportation Department Purchase and Service Contracts (Chenango County)
District officials did not comply with competitive bidding requirements for 33 of 35 transportation contracts totaling $322,056. In addition, district fuel credit card purchases resulting in 155 charges totaling $16,258 did not comply with district procedures. Lastly, vehicle repair invoices and parts ordered by the vehicle maintenance and repair vendor were not reviewed and 22 charges, totaling $1,891, did not have enough detail to verify that the parts ordered were used for district vehicles.
The district had a general fund balance deficit in each of the last five fiscal years, averaging more than $2.9 million each year. This contributed to the district’s overall cash position, which decreased by 71%. The largest deficit occurred in the 2020-21 fiscal year and totaled more than $5.1 million. Although a multiyear financial plan would provide more transparency regarding the district’s long-term financial goals and help guide the board and officials as they develop district budgets, they did not develop a multiyear financial plan for the district.
District officials did not identify students who received Medicaid-eligible services or file Medicaid-reimbursement claims to recover part of the costs associated with these services. As a result, the district did not receive about $68,200 for reimbursements to which it was entitled. Although the district provided Medicaid-reimbursable services to 27 students who were eligible for Medicaid during the 2021-22 fiscal year, officials did not file for reimbursements because a district-prepared cost-benefit analysis did not fully quantify the potential revenue that could be realized. District officials also did not establish Medicaid claims procedures to ensure that staff maintained sufficient documentation for eligible services provided.
District officials did not ensure the district’s website provided the public with transparent and comprehensive financial information. As a result, the community and other interested parties could not readily access and review information that could be used to make informed decisions. Officials also did not post information they were required to include on the district’s website.