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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Utica City School District – Financial Condition (2013M-341)


Released: February 28, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to assess the District’s financial condition for the period July 1, 2011 through March 31, 2013.

Background

The Utica City School District is a small city school district whose boundaries are the same as the City of Utica in Oneida County. The District is governed by the Board of Education, which consists of seven elected members. The District’s general fund budgeted expenditures for the 2013-14 fiscal year are $138.8 million.

Key Findings

  • In recent years the District has struggled with fiscal challenges due to a deteriorating financial condition. District officials have adopted realistic budgets and its spending did not exceed the budget. However, they relied heavily on appropriations of fund balance in the budgets from 2010-11 through 2011-12. As a result, by the end of 2011-12, the District’s unexpended surplus funds had declined to a deficit of $1,157,820. By the end of 2012-13, the District was able to increase the unexpended surplus funds to $1,127,047 (.8 percent of the ensuing year’s appropriations). Although this is an improvement from the prior year, the District has very little cushion for managing unforeseen events.
  • To meet short-term cash flow needs, the District borrowed at least $10 million each year, incurring about $150,000 for interest costs in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
  • The Board has not developed a multiyear operational plan to provide a framework for future budgets and facilitate management of financial operations.

Key Recommendations

  • Reduce reliance on fund balance as a financing source and continue to evaluate and explore ways to cut costs and/or increase revenues.
  • Ensure adequate fund balance and cash flow to avoid reliance on short-term debt borrowing.
  • Develop and document a multiyear operational plan to provide a framework for future budgets and facilitate management of the District’s financial operations.

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