Audit reveals city of Binghamton on solid footing -- for now

By Matt Porter

August 14, 2013 Updated Aug 15, 2013 at 12:10 AM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Fiscal solvency and a healthy reserve were the headlines of the city of Binghamton's 2011 audit.

The 77-page document released Wednesday details city revenue and expenses to determine its overall fiscal health.

The audit has been delayed for almost a year due to lack of staff, the flood and a state audit occurring at the same time, according to city officials.

The city's expenses came in $1.5 million less than its 2011 income.

The surplus funds were added to the general fund, which now includes $6 million saved in a rainy day -- or reserve -- fund.

Although Binghamton remained solvent, the surplus shrunk by more than 65 percent from 2010.

Mayor Matt Ryan said it will take a fiscally conservative approach to ensure the city stays within its resources.

He criticized the current mayoral campaign for not addressing the city's future financial health.

He said the next candidate must be willing to make the difficult choices.

"All we're doing is going round and round about the roundabout which is so ridiculous," Ryan said, "And I think people are getting sick of it. I hope that people start demanding the candidates talk about more than that."

The biggest problem cited by auditors was the risks of fraud inside city government.

The audit made several recommendations to further protect taxpayers, including posting signs warning residents never to write a check in a government worker's name.

Also, cash transactions are only accepted through the treasurer's office.

Binghamton Comptroller Charles Pearsall said the city already had policies in place that caught employees stealing money.

"They got away with it for a little while, but the methods we had to catch them is what caught those people," Pearsall said, "But they go in and say, if you have an incident, that means your financial control wasn't good enough. So they wanted additional financial controls."

The other major criticism was the lateness of the report.

Changes have been made, including hiring two more accountants to keep future audits on time.

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