NYS audit finds Henrietta Fire District Board did not effectively manage finances

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State comptroller is pinpointing several problems with the Henrietta Fire District’s finances.

According to the NYS Comptroller’s Office, the board did not manage the District’s financial condition and presented budgets indicating the District needed to both increase real property taxes and use appropriated fund balance to close projected budget gaps. As a result, more real property taxes were levied than needed.

The audit concluded:

  • The Board did not adopt realistic budgets from 2017 through 2021. As a result, fund balance increased to $4.4 million on December 31, 2020, which is excessive and enough to pay 41.5 percent of the District’s 2020 expenditures.
  • The Board unnecessarily overrode the 2019 and 2020 tax cap. The 2021 tax cap override will likely be unnecessary because the 2021 budget overestimated appropriations by approximately $1.4 million, and the $1 million appropriated fund balance will likely not be used.
  • The Board did not adopt budgeting, fund balance or reserve policies, or multi-year financial and capital plans.

In response, the fire district board disagreed with the audit about adopting unrealistic budgets and overriding the tax cap. However, they did agree that a formal fund balance and reserve policy is needed.

"The board agrees with the conclusion and finding related to the need for a formal fund balance and reserve policy to guide the creation and funding of reserve accounts as well as to set a recommended level of unassigned fund balance each year. This policy will be developed and be part of the 2020 budgeting process," William Heist, Chairman of Henrietta Fire District said.

You can view the full audit below:

Henrietta Fire District Audit by News10NBC