Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois Announces Release of Independent Audit of Basic Financial Statements-Excess Funds Double in One Year

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Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois Announces Release of Independent Audit of Basic Financial Statements-Excess Funds Double in One Year


Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois
 has announced the release of the Dutchess County Audited Basic Financial Statements. These statements include the Independent Auditors’ Reports from Drescher & Malecki LLP for the year ended December 31, 2021. Their audit reported no material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, or noncompliance. Dutchess County was rated as a “low-risk auditee.”

The audited financial statements show that the unassigned fund balance for the General Fund almost doubled in 2021, increasing from $60,033,276 at the end of 2020 to $119,508,207 at the end of 2021. The County’s Fund Balance Management Policy states that the County will “strive to maintain an undesignated general fund balance of 1-2 months of general fund operating expenditures.” The current balance represents more than 3 months expenditures which now requires strategies for spending down. The policy addresses excess balance stating it will “pay down or avoid indebtedness and/or provide property tax relief through offsetting current year operating expenses.” The Administration has not announced an excess fund balance spending plan as of the release of this report.

With the increase in unassigned fund balance, the primary net position of the County increased by $34 million over the prior year. This increase is primarily due to a significant increase in sales tax revenue by almost $50 million from 2020 to 2021.

“Having such excess funds could present the unique challenge of apathy towards cautious spending,” stated Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois, who serves as chair of the County’s Audit Committee. “The County must remain diligent in its attention to responsible spending to ensure the protection of taxpayer dollars.”

The County is also anticipating an influx of funds beginning in 2022 from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November 2021. These funds are designated for new investments in all modes of transportation, water power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, broadband, and resilience. The independent auditors recommend that we identify individuals responsible within the County to oversee this new grant opportunity in an effort to maximize available funding and identify applicable compliance requirements.

The County continued to subsidize the operations of the Dutchess Regional Airport and the Public Transportation enterprise funds in 2021 ($599,203 and $1,465,608 respectively). The outside auditors also recommended that we monitor these funds and consider if they should be made as a special revenue governmental fund or as a department of the General Fund more appropriately.

Bonds payable in governmental activities increased to $275,908,187 in 2021, up by $33,552,483 from $242,355,704 in 2020. The County issued $54,808,900 in general improvement serial bonds in 2021 and had scheduled principal payments of $19,430,000. The auditors’ Subsequent Event noted that on March 24, 2022, the County issued $70,200,000 in public improvement serial bonds for various construction projects, including the Justice and Transition Center (JTC).

“As construction costs and interest rates continue to rise, and the JTC construction costs continue to get bonded it is imperative that the County monitor future projects and the steeply growing future financial obligations,” stated Comptroller Lois, concluding, “I am once again appreciative of the time and effort devoted to gathering this information by staff across the County, particularly our Department of Finance.”

The full audited financial statements can be found here (.pdf).

Author: Harlem Valley News