Henrietta Fire District’s bad budgeting led to more taxes than necessary, comptroller audit says

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Bad budgeting by the Henrietta Fire District led to more real property taxes being levied than necessary, according to an audit issued Friday by the New York State Comptroller’s office.

According to the audit, the fire district’s board did not effectively manage the budget, indicating that the district needed to both increase real property taxes and use appropriated funding to close projected budget gaps.

According to the audit:

  • 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 multiyear financial and capital plans.

The comptroller’s office recommends the fire district adopt realistic budgets, as well as establish budgeting, fund balance, and reserve policies and develop multiyear financial and capital plans.

In a response to the comptroller (page 7 of the document below), fire district officials say they disagreed with the audit’s findings on adopting realistic budgets and overriding the tax cap, but said they agreed on the finding of the need for a formal fund balance and reserve policy.

Officials from the Henrietta Fire District have not immediately returned a request for comment on this story.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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