State reimbursement error leads to $966K transfer to close accounts
An estimation error regarding state reimbursement of school construction costs required a $966,000 transfer from the town's reserve funds.
When Tokeneke Elementary School and Darien High School were constructed in the early 2000s, the town received an estimate outlining how much of the costs would be reimbursed by the state, Director of Finance Kate Buch said. However, after the state conducted an audit, the number of eligible costs for reimbursement were significantly reduced.
"The question is what will they [the state] deem eligible. In our estimates, what we thought would be eligible was ineligible. It wasn't until the audits were done that we found out," Buch said. "We did have an issue with the high school because there were some change orders that weren't properly filed. We fought with the state and got that adjusted, but by the time we found out estimates were off we couldn't go back and bond more."
Liz Mao, chairman of the Board of Finance, said it was appropriate to transfer money from the reserve fund to the construction accounts because that is the purpose of having a reserve fund. However, she noted the BOF has a policy of not draining the reserve fund too low.
"The BOF has policy to keep that reserve fund at 10 percent of budgeted expenditures," Mao said. "We will quickly be bringing it down. Currently it's about $17.2 million. We're bringing $1 million out for Weed Beach plus $900,000 for the Darien High School and Tokeneke building fund."
The total amount of money that needed to be transferred was $964,655.40. Of that amount, $283,585.46 would go into the DHS construction account and $681,069.94 would go into the Tokeneke construction account.
Mao also noted the money represented an error in the estimate for state reimbursement and not cost overruns for the projects. She also said the general practice for the BOF when it receives a state grant is to funnel the money into the town coffers.
The board unanimously approved the transfer of $964,655.40
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