Audits by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli have found that two Southern Tier school districts have been sitting on more money than necessary.
The audits, which cover a period ending June 30, criticized the financial management at the Allegany-Limestone Central School District in Cattaraugus County and Cassadaga Valley Central School District in Chautauqua County.
The Allegany-Limestone District had raised the real property tax levy by 26 percent and stockpiled $1 million in reserves without having a plan for the use of those reserves, the comptroller said. The audit also found the district had $2 million in debt reserves but, as of June, had no explanation of the debts that money was meant to service.
Four out of six of the Allegany-Limestone District’s general funds had a total of $1.7 million in reserves that could not be justified by any plans or documentation.
The Comptroller’s Office found the Cassadaga Valley District “consistently overestimated expenditures” in its general fund, totaling $6.3 million over the past five years. As a result, the district’s use of a $5.8 million fund balance as a funding source has been deemed unnecessary by the comptroller.
The district has had operating surpluses in the general fund for the last four of five years and, for the past two years, it has exceeded the state’s 4 percent surplus limit, DiNapoli said. The audit also found a reserve of $876,000 for which the district could not demonstrate a need.
The Comptroller’s Office said the audits “help schools improve their financial management practices” and “make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide students with the best possible education.”