WEST VALLEY—The New York State Comptroller’s Office recommended changes to West Valley Central School’s financial management in an audit discussed at the July 23 board meeting.
In order to help the district better maintain reasonable fund balance levels and adopt structurally balanced budgets, the audit recommended the board and district formulate a plan for the use of excess unrestricted fund balance in the general fund to benefit district residents, develop and adopt budgets that include realistic estimates for appropriations and fund balance, adopt a more comprehensive reserve policy and develop a plan to reduce reserve balances to reasonable levels.
The financial management audit was done to determine whether the board effectively managed the district’s financial condition between July 1, 2014 and Nov. 13, 2017. Recommendations were suggested after it was determined adopted budgets overestimated appropriations by $3.1 million, the appropriated fund balance was not used to finance operations and the reserve fund policy led to reserves being overfunded and not being used.
“The Comptroller doesn’t like that we are appropriating all that fund balance … saying we are overestimating our expenditures … so I can reduce that appropriation and reduce some expense, but that is going to tighten the budget up. It’s a question of how tight you want the budget and that’s the tricky part,” District Business Official Ann O’Brien said. “If we are going to be making some of these decisions, I want to educate and show things to you so when we go into this year, we are aware of everything, because I think that’s important.”
Though the board agreed with all the suggestions in the audit and will work to tighten up balances the best they can, O’Brien stressed the importance of the excess funds to the district. With unexpected expenditures arising, including some coming this year totaling around $80,000, keeping the excess unrestricted fund balance is crucial for making sure the district runs without affecting students or residents if something were to come up.
“The only way to deal with that $80,000 is going to be either cut a program or we take it out of the excess money … or increase the taxes,” O’Brien said. “When you use all your excess up, you have no more cards to play so the next place you go is your program. I have been trying to play our cards so we don’t get ourselves in that position.”
The full audit can be viewed at wvalley.wnyric.org.
In other board news:
– A public meeting to discuss the district’s five-year plan will be Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
– The board approved the extra curricular activities, along with the advisors, coordinators, assistants and stipend positions for the 2018-19 school year.
The next West Valley Central School Board of Education meeting will be Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. in the library conference room.