Opinion 2001 - 10
CLAIMS -- Audit (necessity of
TOWN LAW §118: Vendors are not
required to submit certified or verified claims to a town unless so
required by town board resolution.
Town Law §118 relates to the form of claims against a town. Section 118(1) provides that, with certain exceptions, no claim against a town may be paid unless an itemized voucher therefor is presented, audited and allowed. The voucher must be accompanied by a statement by the officer whose action gave rise or origin to the claim that he or she approves the claim and that the service was actually rendered or the supplies or equipment actually delivered. Finally, section 118(1) provides that "[t]he town board may determine, by resolution, that vouchers shall be certified or verified." (emphasis added).
The last quoted sentence of
section 118(1) was added by the enactment of a bill introduced at the
request of the State Comptroller (chapter 9 of the Laws of 1982). Prior
to the 1982 amendment, section 118(1) had provided that claims must be
"certified to be true and correct in a statement signed by or on
behalf of the claimant" and that in lieu of certification, the town
board could provide that vouchers be verified (Town Law §118, as
amended by chapter 836 of the Laws of 1970). The express purpose of the
1982 amendment was to eliminate the certification or verification
requirement and instead provide towns "the option of requiring
certification, verification, or neither." (Memorandum of the Office
of the State Comptroller, S. 5208/A. 5791 of 1982, 1982 New York State
Legislative Annual, p 24; see also 1990 Opns St Comp No. 90-9, p 21).
August 6, 2001
Michael J. Stachowski, Esq.,
1 Of course, irrespective of whether claims are required to be verified or certified, claims, with certain exceptions, must be audited by the town board or the town comptroller, as the case may be, to ascertain whether each claim is a proper town charge (Town Law §§118, 119; see also, e.g., 1995 Opns St Comp No. 95-23, p 46). In so doing, the town board or town comptroller may require any person presenting the claim to be sworn before the board or any member thereof, or before the comptroller, relative to the justness and accuracy of the claim, and the town board or town comptroller may take evidence and examine witnesses, including generally pursuant to subpoena, in respect to the claim (Town Law §119).