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Comptroller faults Holley school district for big surplus

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 February 2014 at 12:00 am

District is over statutory limit by about $7 million

HOLLEY – The State Comptroller has faulted Holley Central School for building up surpluses that exceeded the statutory limit by about $7 million.

The comptroller’s office reviewed the previous five fiscal years at the school district and found school leaders regularly underestimated revenues and overestimated expenditures. That created about $6.7 million in surpluses over the five years.

The statutory limit for surplus funds is 4 percent of the ensuing year’s budget or about $920,000 for Holley, which operates on a $23 million budget. The district was over the surplus fund threshold by more than $7 million or 35 percent, according to the comptroller’s report, which was issued last week. (Click here to see it.)

“Due to these practices, the Board and District officials have withheld significant funds from productive use, levied unnecessary taxes and compromised the transparency of District finances to taxpayers,” the Comptroller’s Office stated.

In addition to the big surpluses, Holley shifted $400,000 from the general fund to a capital fund without the required voter approval, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

The Comptroller’s Office suggested Holley use its surplus to pay off debt, finance one-time expenditures, and reduce taxes. The $400,000 in the capital fund should also be returned to the general fund.

The district will work to implement recommendations in the report, Robert D’Angelo, Holley school superintendent, wrote a Jan. 28 response to Robert Meller, chief examiner for the Comptroller’s Office in Buffalo.

D’Angelo, in his letter, said the district has worked to “have adequate resources to deliver programs that the community desires.” He stressed the Comptroller’s Office found no fiscal misconduct or illegal practices.

Holley has the highest tax rate of the school districts in Orleans County at $25.11 per $1,000 of assessed property. That compares to Medina, $23.85; Lyndonville, $18.41; Kendall, $17.21 and Albion, $16.82.

Kendall had a sizable surplus and voted to cut taxes by $1 million in 2013-14.