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Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Vienna – Internal Controls Over Selected Operations (2012M-132)


Released: November 23, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to evaluate internal controls over selected financial activities for the period January 1, 2010, to April 30, 2011.

Background

The Town of Vienna is located in Oneida County and has a population of approximately 5,440. The Town is governed by the Town Board, which comprises five elected members including the Town Supervisor. The Town's 2010 budgeted expenditures in all major funds were approximately $2.1 million, funded primarily by real property taxes, State aid and sales tax.

Key Findings

  • Water district assessments are not levied in accordance with established water districts' provisions. All eight of the Town's water district funds are being taxed on a benefit basis; however, five of them were established on an ad valorem basis. In 2008, the Board passed a local law to establish a consistent and equitable yearly water use unit charge for existing water districts and all future districts. However, the local law was contrary to Town Law. Once a water district is established under either the ad valorem or benefit basis, the method of financing it may not be changed. We found that the Board inappropriately changed the assessment basis for five water districts from an ad valorem to a benefit basis.
  • The assessed value of a property owned by a Board member was reduced by 36 percent without supporting documentation to justify this change.
  • The Town also lacks an agreement with its IT vendor.
  • The Board has failed to adopt IT policies that address topics such as acceptable use, internal user access, remote access, data backup, and disaster recovery.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure assessments for water districts and extensions are charged in accordance with the basis of assessment (ad valorem or benefit) indicated at the time the water districts were formed. Ensure that for all future water districts, the basis for assessments (ad valorem or benefit) is clearly described in the public notice or in the petition.
  • Require the Assessor to save RPS audit log transactions before removing them from the database. Ensure access to the Town's RPS data is restricted to appropriate users.
  • Enter into a service level agreement with its IT vendor.
  • Adopt written policies to address IT topics such as acceptable use, system security, internal user access, protecting personal, private, and sensitive information, and data backup.

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