Another response to audit discussed

FONDA – Members of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors discussed a response to the recent audit conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s Office during Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Auditors from the state Comptroller’s Office released a report in October that said the board has not adopted realistic and balanced budgets the past three years.

The state comptroller’s audit – which covered Jan. 1, 2010, to May 31, 2013?- criticized the county Board of Supervisors’ financial practices, including the way the board used the fund balance.

“The county’s declining financial condition is the result of poor budgeting and financial management practices and the [Board of Supervisors’] failure to develop and use long-term financial plans,” the audit said.

Committee Chairman Dominick Stagliano said the response to the audit Treasurer Shawn Bowerman issued wasn’t necessary.

The response outlined the county’s pledge to adopt budgets that are realistically estimated, urges the new form of government to responsibly take corrective action and plans on establishing an amount of fund balance the county should maintain.

After receiving a draft of the audit in September, Stagliano said, the county was only required to respond by agreeing or disagreeing with the results.

However, Bowerman said he was contacted by the Comptroller’s Office and warned the audit would be printed without a response from the county if one wasn’t received the next day.

“I put something together, ran it by [Board of Supervisors Chairman] John Thayer and we sent it. We were under the gun to have a response or not have a response,” he said.

After the response was sent, the board was given a 90-day period to create a corrective action plan.

Bowerman said the response he drafted, which included a corrective action plan, was “generic” and the state might want more detail.

Stagliano said if the state requests a more detailed response, the Finance Committee will create a formal corrective action plan during its December meeting. The plan would then be moved to the full board meeting for approval.

According to the audit, the board did not adopt realistic and structurally balanced budgets. Instead, the audit said, the board consistently relied on appropriating fund balance, a non-recurring revenue, to pay for recurring expenditures.

As of the end of 2012, Montgomery County reported a fund balance of $11.4 million in the general fund. Compared to Jan. 1, 2010’s total of $19.2 million, there was a drop of 41 percent, or $7.8 million.