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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Wainscott Common School District – Financial Condition (2013M-268)


Released: December 20, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to evaluate the District’s financial condition for the period July 1, 2011 to April 30, 2013.

Background

The Wainscott Common School District is located in the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton, in Suffolk County. The District is governed by the Board of Education, which comprises three elected members. The District's budgeted expenditures for the 2012-13 fiscal year were approximately $3.5 million.

Key Findings

  • The Board needs to improve its oversight and management of the District’s budget. Over the last five years, District officials consistently under-estimated revenues and over-estimated expenditures in the Board adopted budgets by a total of more than $1.7 million. Although the Board appropriated unexpended surplus funds each year, for a five-year total exceeding $3.1 million, to help finance the ensuing year’s operations, the District actually used less than $1.9 million of the appropriated fund balance during this period. As a result, the District accumulated unexpended surplus fund balance equivalent to 68 percent of the ensuing years’ budgets, or 16 times the amount allowed by statute. For the same time period, the District increased the real property tax levy by more than $325,000.
  • The District has not developed a multiyear financial plan that addresses the District’s long-term operational needs or the use of unexpended surplus fund balance in a manner that benefits the District taxpayers.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop and adopt budgets that include realistic estimates for revenues and expenditures based on all information available at the time the budget is developed. Discontinue the practice of adopting budgets that result in the appropriation of unexpended surplus funds that will not be used. Ensure that the amount of the District's unexpended surplus fund balance is in compliance with Real Property Tax Law statutory limits.
  • Develop a multiyear plan that addresses the use of unexpended surplus funds in a manner that benefits District taxpayers.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236