The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District has come under fire from the Comptroller’s office for mismanaging reserve funds and increasing taxes. Our Venise Toussaint has the story.
ORANGE COUNTY, N.Y. -- In a highly critical state audit report, the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District as slammed by the state comptroller’s office and accused of hiding millions of dollars in surplus funds while increasing property taxes.
“I don’t understand why they would hide funds like that," said Christine Nowiki, whose children attend school in the district.
The district comes under fire by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who blasts district officials for their management of reserved funds and what he calls an inaccurate budget process. In the 32 page audit, the state alleges the district intentionally over budgeted employee salaries, benefits and special education tuition all the while hiking taxes and stashing millions.
“That’s not right. We should have our taxes lowered.”
The state found that the school district over estimated expenditures during the years of 2008-2011, resulting in a $13.6 million surplus. Auditors say the district raised the tax levy by $9.3 million over the three year period.
In his 10 page response, School Board President Michael DiGeronimo fires back at the state, calling their findings “misleading and mostly inaccurate.”
DiGeronimo said, "The report gives the mistaken impression that the district has violated educational and municipal laws and does not use generally accepted accounting practices. In reality, these are subjective opinions of the individual auditors. Our budgeting process is accurate and responsible saving the taxpayers of the district millions of dollars.”
The state admits the district has not done anything illegal, but they are demanding the district be more transparent in their financial matters by posting audits on their website and using surplus funds to reduce property taxes and benefit tax payers.