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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Homer Central School District – Financial Condition (2013M-306)


Released: February 7, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

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

Background

The Homer Central School District is located in Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga and Tompkins Counties. The District is governed by the Board of Education which comprises nine elected members. The District’s budgeted expenditures for the 2013-14 fiscal year are $39 million.

Key Findings

  • The Board did not ensure budget estimates were reasonable. Over the last five years, the District appropriated a total of almost $3.6 million of unexpended surplus funds and budgeted for expenditures from its reserves in its budgets. Although unexpended surplus and reserve funds were included in the budgets as a financing sources, the District did not actually use the surplus funds or all of the budgeted reserve fund amounts as planned in fiscal years 2008-09 to 2009-10 and fiscal years 2011-12 to 2012-13 because District expenditures were significantly less than what had been estimated for those years.
  • Two of the District’s reserve fund balances are excessive.
  • When considering the total operating surpluses and planned use of fund balance over the last 5 fiscal years, the District raised $2.4 million more in taxes than necessary for operations.

Key Recommendations

  • Adopt budgets that include the District’s actual needs based on historical trends or other identified needs.
  • Review all reserve balances and determine if the amounts reserved are necessary, reasonable, and in compliance with statutory requirements.
  • Develop a plan for the use of the unexpended surplus funds identified in this report in a manner that benefits District taxpayers and provides appropriate transparency through the budget process with public disclosure. Such uses could include, but are not limited to, reducing District property taxes, funding one-time expenditures or establishing and funding necessary reserves.

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