DiNapoli’s office critical of Fredonia schools’ fund balance

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Fredonia Board of Education President Michael Bobseine speaks during a recent meeting.

An audit released this morning by the state comptroller’s office is critical of Fredonia Central Schools’ fund balance in recent years.

According to the audit done by the office of Thomas DiNapoli, the Fredonia school board overestimated appropriations by more than $5.7 million over a three-year period or 6.75 percent, resulting in annual operating surpluses and a fund balance increase of more than $2 million.

As of June 30, 2017, the unrestricted fund balance totaled more than $3.3 million and was 11 percent of the 2017-18 budgeted appropriations, exceeding the statutory limit by more than $2.1 million, or 7 percentage points.

Despite the significant amount of accumulated fund balance, the board annually increased the tax levy and did not take steps to reasonably fund reserves.

DiNapoli’s office also offered these recommendations to the district in moving forward:

• Adopt budgets using realistic estimates for appropriations and the amount of fund balance to be used to fund operations.

• Reduce unrestricted fund balance to within the statutory limit and use the excess funds in a manner more beneficial to residents.

Fredonia school officials disagreed with certain aspects of the findings and recommendations, but indicated they planned to initiate some corrective action.

The district’s budget for the 2017-18 school year is $32 million.