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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Brentwood Fire District – Board Oversight and Information Technology (2012M-173)


Released: December 28, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to review Board oversight of selected financial operations and information technology for the period January 1, 2010, to November 15, 2011.

Background

The Brentwood Fire District is a district corporation of the State, distinct and separate from the Town of Islip and the County of Suffolk in which it is located. An elected five-member Board of Fire Commissioners governs the District. The District’s total expenditures for 2010 were approximately $5.8 million.

Key Findings

  • The Board did not adopt sound budgeting practices when preparing and adopting the annual budget, which resulted in operating surpluses totaling nearly $5.2 million for the five-year period ending December 31, 2011. Despite significant accumulated funds, and with no written plans for the use of these funds District officials overrode the 2 percent property tax and raised taxes 12 percent.
  • While the Board adopted a code of ethics in 2006, officials did not post or distribute this code to officers, members and employees as required until after the Board received a complaint involving the appearance of impropriety. The Board has not formally adopted adequate or comprehensive policies and procedures governing the use of firefighting equipment.
  • The Board needs to improve oversight of the District’s Length of Service Award Program.
  • The Board has not effectively addressed the safeguarding of computerized data and assets by establishing adequate policies and procedures for acceptable computer use and for monitoring their implementation. The Board has not established formal policies or procedures to address potential disasters or major disruptions.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop budgets based on realistic estimates of revenues and appropriations and monitor financial activity to ensure that operations stay within the budget.
  • Develop procedures to monitor compliance with its code of ethics. Adopt policies and procedures to govern the use of its firefighting equipment for non-emergency use.
  • Adopt policies and District officials should implement procedures for the administration and oversight of its LOSAP.
  • Adopt an acceptable use policy to ensure computer resources are protected from unauthorized use. Develop and adopt a formal disaster recovery plan that documents steps to be taken in the event of an emergency.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236