The State Comptrollers’s Office has conducted a review of the Cortland City School District’s preliminary budget for next year. The audit is critical of the projected expenses in the proposed spending plan.
The audit released yesterday looks at the district’s 2015-2016 budget that goes before the voters in less than a month.
The over $50 million dollar spending plan calls for a 2% increase in taxes next year. The proposed tax levy is over $17 million.
State auditors say the proposed expenses are overstated by $3.2 million. The inflated expenses will lead to a higher tax levy than is necessary to fund the district. Auditors say the district should be able to better estimate its appropriations based on the previous year’s expenses.
The tentative budget also calls for the use of $5 million in reserves to offset the costs to taxpayers. Of that $5 million, $2 million would come from a retirement reserve. The Comptroller says that reserve can only be used for retirement contributions, not general expenses.
The report was also critical of the district’s use of fund balance to balance the budget. Fund balances occur when the district spends less than budgeted.
School Superintendent Mike Hoose said he was still reviewing the report but pointed out that schools, unlike state government can not spend more than they collect meaning the district has to overestimate some expenses to avoid a mid-year deficit.
The district must send a response letter and a corrective action plan to the state.
Voters will decide the budget on May 19th.