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Thread: Criminal activity in Clarence School Board - Tax Fraud?

  1. #1
    Member FMD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Exclamation Criminal activity in Clarence School Board - Tax Fraud?

    Clarence School district caught over charging tax payers to the tune of thousands of dollars per tax payer!

    Full Report

    The Board and District officials did not effectively manage the District’s financial condition. As a result, the District levied more taxes than needed to fund operations. The Board and District officials:

    Consistently overestimated general fund appropriations from 2018-19 through 2020-21 by a total of $16 million and appropriated $6.4 million that was not needed or used.
    Recorded fiscal year-end commitments related to unperformed contracts for goods and services totaling $3.3 million during the audit period. However, $3.2 million was unsupported or for unbudgeted purchases. In effect, officials improperly sheltered a portion of surplus fund balance from the statutory limit and made surplus fund balance appear less than it actually was.
    Adopted annual budgets which gave the impression the District would have operating deficits totaling $6.4 million when it had operating surpluses totaling $7.3 million, or a swing in operational results of $13.7 million.
    As of June 30, 2021, surplus fund balance totaled $9.2 million, or more than 6 percentage points above the 4 percent legal limit.
    Key Recommendations
    Develop budgets that include reasonable appropriation estimates, only appropriate fund balance when needed and ensure encumbrances are appropriate.
    Develop a plan to reduce surplus fund balance to comply with the statutory limit.
    District officials generally agreed with our findings and indicated they plan to initiate corrective action. Appendix B includes our comments on certain issues District officials raised in their response.
    Its WAY worse in Williamsville, and other districts are guilty as well - Yikes!
    Willful ignorance is the downfall of every major empire in history.

    "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." - Mao, 1938

  2. #2
    Member gorja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Lancaster, NY
    This is School Board member Michael Fuch's response regarding the audit.
    I appreciate people reaching out to inquire about the Districts’ fund balance and state audit.
    First let me say the “messaging” that is being used is cherry picking language from an audit. The full audit report includes a lot of information including the districts response. Many are conveniently omitting our views and actions taken.
    The core of the criticism is that we held too much in UNALLOCATED reserves and we overestimated expenses.
    With regards to the reserves we had less than 4% in allocated reserves (specifically identified) and greater than 4% in unallocated. The audit only criticized the unallocated. As a district we left the money in unallocated because it allowed us the greatest flexibility to deal with what ever issues may arise. The audit did not comment on how we were UNDERFUNDED in our specific reserves. This past August in a public meeting we discussed the audit and moved a large percentage of reserves to specific funds. At present we are below the state limit of 4% in unallocated and we have more money specifically earmarked for other reserves. This list has been shared in our public meetings and is as follows:
    LIABILITY RESERVE 1,500,000.00
    RESERVE FOR REPAIRS 1,202,352.00
    RESERVE FOR BONDED DEBT 1,241,765.94
    TOTAL 5,873,312.71
    I should note that each of these reserves are funded below what the law would allow. I believe we are doing our best to balance protecting the district while limiting the tax burden.
    With regards to the criticisms than we overestimated expenses. I would say that the large gaps occurred over the years of the pandemic where we shut down for a period of time while the following year we purposely slowed spending as the governor had threatened to pull back funds if the states poor fiscal outlook didn’t improve.
    Any reserves that we do have are there for the taxpayers and will be used for their benefit. Twice over my years of service we have used reserves to reduce or eliminate the local taxpayer share of needed capital projects. This approach is better for the district than reducing the tax levy in a specific year because that decision would compound. If we were to reduce the levy by $500,000 this year (as an example) we could use fund balance. That is correct. But what is not considered by some is that we would then need to use $500,000 of fund balance every year into the future forever which we simply do not have funds for. If we do not have fund balance in future years we would either need to go over the tax cap to raise taxes or we would need to cut programs. Neither of these options is acceptable in my opinion.
    Proposition 3 DOES NOT RAISE TAXES. It simply allows the district to move money into a specific capital reserve to do what we have done in past years. That is, give reserves back to the taxpayers in a way that is sustainable, ensures we fund existing programs and reduces the need to raise taxes in the future.
    I hope reading the above helps fill in the holes of some of the “headline grabbing” messages that so easily are shared on signs and social media.

    Georgia L Schlager

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    They’re all f’ing liars…every single one.

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