Report finds Ulster County fund balance more than allowed
Patricia Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman according to a recently released report, for the better part of the past 10 years, Ulster County has not complied with its own policy. Officials have carried an unrestricted fund balance far in excess of what that policy allows, according to County Comptroller March Gallagher. In a report issued June 25, Gallagher said the county has carried an unrestricted fund balance of between 11.94 percent and 16.96 percent of the next year's county budget, well above the legislative policy created in 2013 which limits an unrestricted fund balance to between 5 and 10 percent. The county Legislature is currently weighing the possibility of amending its rules to increase the allowable balance to between 15 and 18 percent of the next year's budget. A resolution to do so has been stalled in the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee since May. The county's unrestricted general fund balance stood at just under $49,500,000 at the end of 2020, or 16.96 percent of the county's $334.4 million 2021 budget. "The budgeting of unnecessary fund balance builds flexibility into the annual budget but this type of deficit budgeting with consistent actual surpluses could also indicate tax levies may be higher than needed by accumulating larger reserves than needed," Gallagher stated. "Maintenance of large cash balances that have not been reserved for future use may not be in the best interest of taxpayers," she said. Finance Commissioner Burt Gulnick denied the county has been overtaxing its residents. He said that over the past 12 years, the county has realized a deficit of more than $12 million. The report makes various recommendations, including a clarification in the new policy on whether the fund balance limits are applied to the unrestricted or unappropriated fund balance. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.