ALBION, N.Y. — An Orleans County school district may have to answer to taxpayers after the state comptroller's office raised numerous questions about its budget management and its tax formula.
On the Main Street of the village of Albion, we found realtor Jim Theodorakos of Morrison Realty and asked him what he thought about Albion schools and their financial quandary. He told us, " I'd like to know the answers. The scuttlebutt really is that the money should be returned to the taxpayers. How do they go about it? I don't know."
That's actually a $17 million-plus surplus scuttlebutt. And the New York State Comptroller's office determined the district and its school board built it up by collecting more property taxes from residents than needed. They were basically over their statutory limit.
Add to that $24 million in overestimated appropriations without realistic budgets or proper funds management over a four school year period from 2017 into part of 2021.
And the state comptroller's report says the board's finance committee did not explain how it worked on budgets or even say what financial reports they got or how they were reviewed.
There were also over-funding issues with the district's retirement contributions.
Now the comptroller's staff is suggesting the district and board produce realistic and reasonable budgets and come up with a plan to use that fund surplus to benefit taxpayers.
"I don't know what the answer will be. It's gonna be interesting to follow this story. $17 Million dollars is not a drop in the bucket," says Theodorakos.
2 On Your Side went to district offices in Albion and requested to speak to Superintendent Mickey Edwards as well as the district business officer. We were told that they had no further response other than what was already included in the state comptroller's report. We will also point out that both of them took office in the year 2021 - that is after most of the activities that were criticized by the comptroller took place
In the report, they agreed with the comptroller and said they will begin corrective actions.
There was also no real response from emails sent to the school board members. Some of the addresses on the district website were invalid.
On Monday night, the board voted on a motion to adopt the comptroller's recommendations and they passed the motion.
Those recommendations are reassessing the way the district budgets, adopting a long-range financial plan, and addressing excess funds it's holding.