District Responds to NYS Comptroller’s Audit Report

The Baldwinsville Central School District is committed to managing its finances with a focus on instruction while remaining fiscally responsible to taxpayers. This includes staying within the state’s property tax cap requirements, operating with efficiency, and working to have a financially prudent balance sheet. For three consecutive years the New York State Comptroller has recognized the district’s excellent financial stability by giving the district a score of 0% for fiscal stress, the best score a school district can receive.

The Comptroller recently issued an audit report that states that the district has over taxed our community and is maintaining reserves in excess of what the Comptroller deems appropriate. While we respect the opinions of the Comptroller’s office, the district is having a difference in budgeting and financial philosophy with the Comptroller.

The district’s seven year average tax increase has been 1.75%. An important component for financial stability is maintaining reserves. Reserves enable the district to maintain a high bond rating which lowers the cost of borrowing. As part of the district’s fiscal planning, we have been maintaining a certain amount of reserves to be prepared for emergencies, unanticipated issues, and decreases in revenue in order to avoid fiscal stress and keep any tax increases to a minimum. While we disagree with the Comptroller regarding the amount we maintain in our reserves, the district has included the use of specific reserves to pay specific expenses in the 2016-17 year. This totals $2,437,836.

We also respectfully disagree with the Comptroller’s report regarding our use of designated fund balance. In 2010-11, New York State held back $6.4 million of our state aid as part of the state’s budget Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Since 2010-11 the state has withheld $29 million in state aid using the GEA. To account for this loss of revenue, the district developed budgets that used designated fund balance. We did not always spend it; we used it to preserve our balance sheet. We consider this to be prudent budgeting in the face of the tax cap requirements, state aid being withheld and expenses, like pensions, that we do not control.  An attachment to the Comptroller’s audit report contains a more complete response to the audit from the district.

The district will be submitting a corrective action plan within the statutory time period to the Comptroller regarding the items that the Comptroller’s audit indicated needed the district’s attention. We consider every audit a learning experience and an opportunity to improve our fiscal planning. We will continue to work to maintain the district’s excellent financial stability and remain fiscally responsible to Baldwinsville taxpayers.

Click HERE for a copy of that report.
Last updated on 6/22/2016