The Niagara Wheatfield Central School District has received the audit report prepared by the Office of the State Comptroller. The information presented in the audit provides us with an independent critical eye on our fiscal operations and procedures. We are pleased to report that there were no instances cited that were critical of the way district money was spent or accounted for. To view the report click here.
At Niagara Wheatfield, our goal over the years has been to minimize the impact of inconsistent funding levels from the State Education Department while trying to maintain an effective instructional program insulated from dramatic swings in revenues. Due to the fact that approximately 50% of the District's operating funds come directly from New York State, we have adopted an extremely conservative philosophy in budget preparation and execution. Application of this philosophy has allowed the District to achieve the second lowest school tax rate in Niagara County. It has also allowed us to keep the total increase to the tax levy at less than 1% over what it was three years ago. With the uncertainty of future year's State Aid, the only reason we can continue with our long range financial plan to support educational and capital programs is by having sufficient cash reserves.
Our eye is always been on making sure that the long term needs of the district can be accommodated. Through conservative financial planning, we have been able to do over $100 million in capital improvements to our schools. Without sufficient Fund Balance, these projects would have caused drastic jumps in the tax rate over the past 15 years.
The audit report is accepted in the spirit in which it was prepared; that is, to review the district's costs and controls in order to safeguard taxpayer's money. As we implement a Corrective Action Plan, the surplus fund balance and reserves identiﬁed in this report will be utilized to beneﬁt District taxpayer. We will pay off debt, ﬁnance needed expenses (like district technology), while keeping District property taxes as low as possible.
While accepting the comments of the State Comptroller, we are at the same time pleased that in past years our district showed good sense in setting money aside so it would be there when the district needed it. Because of good fiscal stewardship, the district will be able to keep the property tax rate flat again next year, just as it has for at least the last three years.The district hopes it can continue its careful planning into the future, to keeping the property tax rate low and the district on an even financial keel.The NY State Office of the Comptroller has posted their audit report online at NYS Audit Report