Friday, 12 October 2018 10:45

Controversy in B’Spa Continues: Financial Condition Audit Released

BALLSTON SPA — An audit covering the financial condition of the Village of Ballston Spa from June 2014 to May 2018 has been released. Financial condition audits are conducted based on the Office of New York State Comptroller’s (OSC) risk assessment process, which also included a request from a local official. They are used to determine whether the treasurer maintained adequate accounting records and that the Board effectively monitored the village’s financial condition.

On Sept. 6 2018 it was announced that the Village Treasurer, Christopher Hickey, resigned. Final audit reports are public documents. The last audit was conducted in 2012 and covered June 2009 through May 2011.

Key findings in the report note that: 1) The Treasurer did not maintain accurate accounting records and failed to file required annual financial reports for the last four fiscal years. 2) The Board did not adequately monitor the village’s financial condition. 3) The general fund’s unrestricted fund balance decreased from $213,327 as of fiscal year-end 2014 to $30,487 as of fiscal year- end 2018.

According to a spokesman for State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, upon receiving the audit, village officials have 90 days to respond and develop what is called a “corrective action plan.” This plan will outline how they will address the recommendations contained in the audit. Village of Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano responded in a letter to the OSC on Sept. 24 and said “The village will implement the recommendations contained in the Financial Condition Report of Examination and will submit a Corrective Action Plan within 90 days.”

It is noted that audits are advisory in nature and the OSC cannot force the village to implement corrective measures.

“Many of the issues go hand- in-hand. Without accurately monitoring the village’s finances, the situation has continued to deteriorate. The rapid decrease in fund balance, the money used to offset revenue shortfalls, is notable because if this money were to dry up, the village will need to reduce its expenditures (cut services, layoffs) or increase taxes in order to balance its budget,” the spokesperson said.

“The problem with this budget practice is that the village is using a non-recurring revenue source to pay for recurring expenses. At some point, the fund balance is going to run out,” he added. The OSC recommends that the village should 1) maintain adequate accounting records in a timely manner. 2) Monitor the village’s financial condition and ensure the Treasurer files timely financial reports. 3) Develop a plan to address the general funds declining fund balance and the village’s overall financial condition.

The village’s deputy treasurer, internal control officer, personnel officer, and compliance officer, Darryl Purinton resigned as well, from all of those titles except internal controls officer. “Our office is questioning the value of this position given the audit findings,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re not going to look back we’re just going to look forward and do what we need to do to get things headed in the right direction,” Mayor John Romano said and adds that he plans on addressing village resident’s concerns.

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