Albany, NY -- The Town of Harrison incurred a $10 million cumulative operating deficit over the last five years by enacting unrealistic and structurally unbalanced budgets, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The town failed to accurately monitor the fund balance to ensure that it was not depleted.
“Enacting unrealistic budgets is unacceptable,” DiNapoli said. “Now Harrison faces a multi-million dollar hole. If Harrison doesn’t improve its budgeting practices, its financial condition will continue to deteriorate. Taxpayers have enough to worry about. Town officials must do a better job of managing taxpayer dollars.” Harrison repeatedly relied on one-time revenues to finance recurring expenditures and used its fund balance to fund operations when budget revenues fell short. As a result, the general fund experienced operating deficits of more than $10 million over the past five years and had a fund balance deficit of $2.6 million on Dec. 31, 2009.
DiNapoli recommended that the board and town officials:
· Develop a plan to reduce the fund balance deficit and monitor the fund balance carefully in the future to ensure that it is not decreased to the point that it becomes a deficit;
· Adopt realistic and structurally balanced budgets for the general fund; and
· Develop realistic budget estimates and ensure that revenues and expenditures stay within budget.
District officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and indicated they planned to take corrective action.
For a copy of this report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2010/harrison.pdf