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Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Saratoga Springs Housing Authority – Board Oversight and Internal Controls Over Payroll and Employee Benefits (2012M-136)


Released: November 16, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of the audit was to examine internal controls over selected Authority financial operations for the period July 1, 2010, to February 21, 2012.

Background

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority is located in the City of Saratoga Springs in Saratoga County. The Authority's Board of Commissioners is comprised of seven commissioners: five appointed by the City Mayor and two elected by the tenants. The Authority's 2011-12 operating budget for the low-income housing program totaled approximately $2.3 million.

Key Findings

While the Board was involved in overseeing Authority operations, we found areas of improvement.

  • The Board did not institute the appropriate internal controls in regards to the approval of travel to conferences and the process of approving claims prior to payment. This resulted in the payment of nearly $12,000 in questionable travel costs.
  • Claims were nearly always paid without any review by Board members.
  • The Authority violated its ethics policy when using a business owned by the Director's brother to service its vehicles.
  • The Board did not compensate the Director - whose 2011-12 salary was $144,921 - in accordance with the Authority's personnel policy or at an amount similar to other Directors of neighboring housing authorities.

Key Recommendations

  • Obtain reimbursement from Authority officials and employees for the excess travel costs identified in this report.
  • Audit and approve all claims prior to payment and ensure that every claim is sufficiently itemized and contains necessary supporting documentation to ensure that it is a proper Authority charge and that the goods and/or services have been received.
  • Enforce the Authority's ethics policy and discontinue utilizing J&M Auto Repair Service.
  • Align the Director's salary with industry comparables and Federal requirements.

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