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Dayton Considered To Be Under Moderate Stress

DAYTON — The town of Dayton has been designated as being under “moderate fiscal stress” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the fiscal stress scores by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli the scores were based on financial information reported by local governments operating on a calendar year basis. In New York, that includes all counties and towns, 44 cities and 10 villages.

“We’ve been closely tracking the trends and common problems that communities in fiscal stress are facing. Now the economic damage caused by the pandemic has dramatically altered the fiscal landscape, and many communities are struggling to provide critical services and pay their bills,” DiNapoli said. “Without aid from Washington, the options are bleak for local governments trying to stay in the black, and many more local governments may be pushed into serious fiscal stress.”

DiNapoli’s Monitoring System informs the public about local governments’ financial health by evaluating and scoring municipalities on financial indicators such as year-end fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs and patterns of operating deficits. The system also evaluates population trends, poverty and unemployment to establish separate “environmental” scores for each municipality.

The town of Dayton received their completed audit from the New York State Comptroller’s office on 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 town wide general fund and the townwide highway fund had deficit unrestricted fund balances during our audit period.”

The audit covers a three-year period of 2016-18 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.”

The Comptroller also released a report on common elements shared by the 31 local governments in fiscal stress. It also noted the fiscal stress risks associated with COVID-19 on local finances, including sharp declines in sales tax revenue, significant withholding of state aid payments to local governments, and existing stress factors such as low fund balance. The report highlighted the targeted training and guidance offered by the Comptroller’s Office to help local officials dealing with financial challenges.

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