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Dinapoli Audit Confirms Bleak Picture of Broome County Finances

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BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says the days of forecasting revenue projections that consistently fall short are over. 

Garnar addressed an audit released Thursday by the New York State Comptroller's office that found the county from 2014 to 2016 depleted its fund balance to dangerously low levels.

"Every year we have always been a half-a-million dollars short, and we always have to go find that money."

In September, Broome County was listed as being under "significant fiscal stress," the fourth-highest fiscal stress score in the state.

In a joint letter, Democrat Garnar and Broome County Legislative Chairman Dan Reynolds, a Republican, asked the comptroller to audit county finances.

Reynolds called the audit a "political" move and is disappointed with its findings.

"We were hoping that it was going to be a fair audit on a variety of county services and what really wound up happening is that they focused on two main objectives of the County Executive rather than just the entire financial operation of the county which is what we were led to believe it was going to be about, to begin with," said Reynolds.

Scope of Audit:

While the purpose of the audit was to examine Broome County's finances from January 1, 2016, through February 23, 2017, the comptroller's office expanded the scope to December 31, 2009, for additional financial information and historical data.

Audit Results:

County officials have not maintained sufficient levels of fund balance in the general fund, which put the county at risk of depleting the fund balance at the end of 2017.

From 2014-2016, county leaders planned for operating deficits totaling $7 million from the fund balance.

The county consistently used the fund balance ($2 million annually) for operating costs.

As of December 31, 2016, the county’s available fund balance was $3 million, of which $2.7 million was appropriated to fund the 2017 budget, leaving for no margin of error.

132 of 389 Vehicles had exceeded their useful life.

Comptroller Recommendations:

Establish a fund balance policy
Stop using the fund balance to pay for recurring expenses - include these in the budget.
Develop a capital plan to replace aging infrastructure and equipment.