About every seven years, the State Comptroller’s Office (SCO) audits each school district. The SCO recently audited the Port Jervis City School District and its use of fund balance. The SCO cited the district for exceeding the 4% limit on fund balance. What is fund balance? Basically, it is the school district’s savings account.
The SCO identified the district’s fund balance to be $23.6 million as of June 2021. In May 2022, the district’s voters approved applying $10 million of this fund balance toward the current capital project bringing the total fund balance remaining down to $13.6 million. Orange-Ulster BOCES recently received voter approval for a $158 million capital project. Port Jervis’s share is approximately $8.2 million. If we pay our share up front and not finance it, it will bring our fund balance down to approximately $5.4 million.
If we were to finance the BOCES project over 20 years, it would cost the Port Jervis CSD taxpayers approximately $13.8 million instead of $8.2 million. Thus, we are saving our taxpayers $5.6 million in interest by having this money available in our savings account.
The SCO didn’t like the fact that the district saved up so much money. However, with a 100 year-old middle school and a looming BOCES project on the horizon, I applaud those who came before us and had the foresight to closely monitor the annual budgets and save whatever they could annually to avoid a big tax increase down the road to pay for these projects.
We will continue to develop conservative budgets and hold the line on taxes to the best of our ability while still providing a quality education for our students.
John J. Bell, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools