Fort Plain school leaders detail plans for
surplus fund balance
A recent audit by The Office of the State
Comptroller found that Fort Plain Central School District has been
holding more money in fund balance than is allowed by law. In
response to the audit findings, the district cited a number of
factors that led to the surplus and provided plans for how those
funds will be allocated going forward.
The audit covered the period between July 1,
2007 and Jan. 31, 2012.
Real Property Tax Law allows a district to retain up to 4 percent of
the ensuing year’s budget as unassigned fund balance. Fund balance
in excess of that amount must either be used to fund a portion of
the next year’s appropriations, thereby reducing the tax levy, or to
fund legally established reserves.
Currently, the district is holding $1,334,000
in fund balance, which is about $590,000 (or 7 percent) above the 4
percent limit. Some of the adjustments the district plans to make
are: Move funds from its Retirement Contribution Reserve to the
Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve (EBALR); and Adjust the
Superintendent Douglas C. Burton said a number
of factors led to an unexpected surplus during the 2011-12 fiscal
A warm winter which resulted in savings on
snow removal, fuel and heating costs, and overtime salaries for
Further streamlining in the transportation
Receiving $50,000 for the one-time sale of
A larger refund for BOCES services than
Receiving a one-time infusion of federal
money to save teacher positions that moved certain expenses out
of the general and into the special aid fund.
In a letter to the comptroller’s office, Mr.
Burton said that the district has done everything it can to use
taxpayer funds appropriately while securing a sound educational
program for students. He said the district’s actions have been
“guided by long-range plans that have taken into account previous
and massive state aid cuts, the loss of significant amounts of
temporary federal funds and our desire to lower our tax rate to
assist resident of this below average wealth school district.”
He also said the audit clearly reveals a
planned trend in the district’s progress toward tighter budgeting
and the use of appropriated fund balance to relieve the local tax
In one of the steps described in the letter to
use the surplus, Mr. Burton said the money transferred to fund the
EBALR would be used to cover projected large increases in retirement
expenses in future years, thus helping the district stay within the
2 percent tax levy cap.
To read more about the district’s plan, please
go to the audit report