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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Lakeland Fire District – Travel and Conference Costs (2013M-145)


Released: August 23, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the internal controls over travel and conference costs for the period January 1, 2011, to November 30, 2012.

Background

The Lakeland Fire District is located in the Town of Islip in Suffolk County. The District is governed by an elected five-member Board of Fire Commissioners. The District’s expenditures for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011 were approximately $2.5 million.

Key Findings

The Board did not ensure that the District only paid for actual District expenses, necessarily incurred on official District business and did not establish appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that expenditures were properly supported. This resulted in:

  • The payment of $15,041 in questionable travel costs which do not appear to be for the District’s benefit.
  • Claims totaling $23,847, some of which were for this questionable travel, were submitted and paid without adequate support. This included $2,813 in reimbursements to a Chief for expenditures that the District had already paid for on the District credit card.
  • The Board has not established a maximum daily rate for meals and lodging to ensure that travel is cost-effective and reasonable. Had the Board implemented per diem rates established by GSA for meals and lodging and mandated that the most cost-effective and reasonable means of travel be used, they could have saved over $12,000 on the five out-of-state conferences in 2012.

Key Recommendations

  • Approve only travel to attend conferences for official District business. Update the travel and conference policy and monitor compliance.
  • Review the questionable travel payments identified in this report and seek reimbursement for any costs that are not actual and necessary District expenditures.
  • Consider implementing a daily maximum rate or a per diem for meals and lodging, or the GSA rate, and require the use of the most cost-effective method of travel.

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