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State Comptroller’s Audit Notes Issues With Dayton

DAYTON — The town of Dayton received their completed audit from the New York State Comptroller’s office Jan. 31 and in it came a few surprises. Highlighted by the office was that the “board did not properly manage fund balance and the townwide general fund and the townwide highway fund had deficit unrestricted fund balances during our audit period.”

The audit covers a three-year period of 2016-2018 and each year had a deficit. In 2016 the general fund was overdrawn by $48,593, in 2017 it was negative $43,146 and in 2018 it was negative $17,924. The highway fund was also overdrawn all three years. In 2016 it was negative $3,573 then in 2017 it was overdrawn by a staggering $102,956 and then in 2018 it was negative $85,136. The audit states that “this occurred because the board did not reasonably estimate fund balance amounts as part of the annual budget process. As a result, at each year-end from 2016 through 2018, the board had no, or minimal, available fund balance in these funds for any unexpected events.”

In 2018, current Town Supervisor Angie Mardino-Miller, took office and the 2018 budget she operated under had been put in place prior to her taking office. The first budget configured under her was the 2019 one. The general fund appropriations for the town of 1,800 people that year was $222,100 and the highway fund appropriations was $426,100.

The audit read that they “reviewed the adopted budget and assessed its reasonableness by comparing it with the town’s historical trends and found certain significant changes.”

The audit cited that these changes included a tax cap override and a significant increase on real property tax levy.

To curb further problems, the office recommended that the town that they develop and adopt budgets that reasonably estimate amounts of available fund balance to appropriate, evaluate the financial activity in the town-wide general and highway funds and establish a plan to eliminate the deficit, ensure that the outstanding interfund loans are repaid, develop, adopt and routinely update comprehensive written multiyear financial and capital plans, obtain the highway superintendent’s equipment inventory, work with the highway superintendent to prepare and adopt the statutorily required annual highway expenditure agreement, develop, adopt and routinely update comprehensive and written fund balance and reserve policies, ensure that they receive monthly budget status reports and ensure that budget modifications are accurate, properly approved and are properly recorded.

On Jan. 15, Mardino-Miller responded to the audit draft saying “it is a priority of the town supervisor and the board to provide transparency and accountability to its taxpayers and we appreciate the suggestions for improvement in attaining these goals. The town concurs with the recommendations included in the report.”

Mardino-Miller added that the during the 2019 budget, the town changed its process. “The process now includes budget requests from department heads, and a thorough workshop where all accounts in the budget are analyzed and discussed by the town supervisor, town board, highway superintendent, town clerk, accounting firm and the town attorney,” Mardino-Miller further wrote. “Detailed records are used to assist in estimating budget amounts. The town prepared its 2020 budget using the same process and plans to continue this process with future budgets.”

The next Dayton town meeting will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Dayton Town Hall. This meeting is, as always open to the public.

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