MASSENA The outgoing assistant superintendent for business in the Massena Central School District told Board of Education members Monday that a press release sent out by district officials last week represented an attempt to discredit me once again.
Cynthia M. Yager told board members: A few meetings ago I heard someone say its business, not personal. So I hope that no one here will take what I have to say personal. For me, business and personal are one and the same. I cannot stand by any longer to allow my reputation to be tarnished.
Ms. Yager, who was attending her last meeting before her retirement on Friday, continued: The press release is very contradicting and makes it appear that the incorrect information was provided to the Finance Committee. This simply is untrue. The board is provided an enormous amount of budget information, and their questions and concerns are always addressed.
District officials said last week that a review by the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services indicated they had more money in their fund balance than anticipated.
We are $1.2 million in the red versus an expected $4 million in the red. Although were still operating at a loss in a sense of having to dip into our reserves, for this year were dipping in a lot less than anticipated, Finance Committee Chairman Michael J. LeBire said last week.
Although the actual final budget numbers wont come until the books are closed and processed, Mr. LeBire said officials believed total general support expenses were under-run by approximately $300,000, total instruction expenses were under-run by approximately $655,000 and employee benefits expenses were under-run by approximately $966,000.
On the revenue side, he said state aid revenues were higher than budgeted by approximately $1.15 million, charges for services revenues were higher than budgeted by approximately $600,000, miscellaneous revenues were higher than budgeted by approximately $150,000 and tax items revenues were less than budgeted by approximately $1 million.
District officials said they contracted with the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES business department to take a closer look at the schools finances after questions arose about the districts reserves.
After reviewing the independent audit report, district officials said BOCES discovered they had $22 million in combined total reserve funds with more accessible funds than anticipated.
Among the findings during the BOCES review was that the district had rapidly accumulated excessive fund balances money left over at the end of the fiscal year after all of the districts bills are paid over the past several years. That money can be rolled over as revenue into the next years budget to lower property taxes or it could be placed in a state-authorized reserve fund, set aside as fund balance or any combination of the three.
District officials said the excess funds were the result of a history of overestimating expenses and underestimating revenues.
Ms. Yager said, Underestimating revenues and overestimating expenses is a normal budget practice. ... True analysis of the long-range fund balance management will show a successful plan that has taken care of some capital needs, absorbed tax assessment reductions and partially funds a long-range plan.
She said BOCES had not been contracted in 2011-12 for financial review, but was contracted to do bank reconciliations and treasurer reports.
This cost the district an estimated $8,000. The district paid a treasurer for this work; the salary and fringe benefits were over $87,000. The district also paid over $3,000 for training and over $5,000 for an audit consultant, Ms. Yager said.
The district is turning over its business office operations to BOCES for the 2012-13 school year and recently hired Angela Wood as the new district treasurer, replacing Penny DeLosh.