Opinion 91-43


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


CLAIMS -- Audit (procedure in towns); (delegation of pre-audit functions)
LOCAL LAWS -- Transfer of Function (town clerk's function in connection with preparation and custody of claims)
TOWN CLERK -- Powers and Duties (preparation and custody of claims)

TOWN LAW, §119; MUNICIPAL HOME RULE LAW, §§10(1)(ii)(a)(1), 23(2)(f): Statutory duties assigned to a town clerk relative to the audit of town claims may be transferred to another town official only by local law subject to mandatory referendum. Ministerial pre-audit functions, such as checking for mathematical accuracy, may be delegated by town board resolution to a town official other than the clerk.

You have asked us to reconcile two opinions of this Office, 34 Opns St Comp, 1978, p 6, and 1990 Opns St Comp, No. 90-21, p 50. You suggest that the two are inconsistent.

In Opn 90-21, supra, we concluded that the statutory duties assigned to a town clerk relative to the audit of town claims (Town Law, §119[1]) may be transferred to another town official only by local law subject to mandatory referendum (Municipal Home Rule Law, §§10[1][ii][a][1]; 23[2][f]). These duties include: causing each claim to be numbered consecutively and to be stamped or otherwise marked with the date of presentation; filing audited claims in numerical order as a public record in his or her office; and preparing an abstract of the audited claims directed to the town supervisor authorizing and directing payment to the claimant of the amounts allowed upon such claim.

In contrast, in the 1978 opinion, at issue were certain ministerial "pre-audit steps", such as checking for mathematical accuracy. We expressed the opinion that these functions could be assigned by town board resolution to a town official other than the town clerk.

We did not suggest in 34 Opns St Comp, 1978, p 6, supra, however, that the statutory duties of the town clerk with respect to the audit process set forth in Town Law, §119 could be assigned by board resolution to any other official. Conversely, Opn No. 90-21 was not intended to imply that certain ministerial pre-auditing functions which are not statutorily assigned to the town clerk could not be delegated to another town official. Accordingly, we do not believe the two opinions are inconsistent and we hereby reconfirm the conclusions reached therein.

October 15, 1991
Thomas Savage, Town Supervisor
Town of Palermo