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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Ripley – Water District Financial Condition and Legal Services (2014M-15)

Released: September 5, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to evaluate the financial condition of Water District 1 and determine if the Board complied with adopted resolutions regarding legal services for the period January 1, 2012 through November 27, 2013.


The Town of Ripley is located in Chautauqua County and had a population of approximately 2,400 as of the 2010 Census. The Town is governed by an elected five-member Town Board. General fund appropriations for 2013 totaled $681,205.

Key Findings

  • The Board did not properly allocate operating costs between the Town’s two water districts, and adopted budgets for one district were unreasonable, resulting in annual operating deficits and declining surplus.
  • Extensions to one district did not comply with all legal requirements and the Board did not properly allocate project costs to benefited properties.
  • The Board has not adopted a multiyear financial plan to address the water districts’ future financial needs.
  • The Board did not comply with one of its resolutions when it failed to bill other municipalities for legal services provided to the municipalities by the Town’s Attorney.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish an equitable method for allocating costs between the two water districts and adopt realistic water budget estimates.
  • Bill the property owners to whom water lines were extended for any unpaid share of costs and consider whether it may be appropriate to establish an extension or a new district to include properties fronting an extended water line.
  • Develop a multiyear plan for funding water districts’ long-term operating and capital needs.
  • Ensure that resolutions are clearly defined and enter into inter-municipal agreements with any municipality for which services are to be provided or shared.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

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