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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Ellenburg – Justice Court and Town Clerk Financial Operations and Wind Power Revenues (2013M-190)


Released: November 15, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to review the Town’s financial operations and the use of the wind power revenues for the period January 1, 2012, to February 28, 2013.

Background

The Town of Ellenburg is located in Clinton County and has approximately 1,700 residents. The Town Board, which is the legislative body, comprises the Town Supervisor and four Board members. The Town’s budgeted appropriations in the 2013 fiscal year were $637,517 for the general fund and $608,680 for the highway fund. The Town has received about $2.9 million in wind power-related revenues during the period January 1, 2006, through February 28, 2013.

Key Findings

  • The internal controls in the Justice Court were not adequately designed and operating effectively. We found a cash shortage of $1,814 in one of the Justice’s accounts and identified 11 missing receipt numbers in the computer system for which there was no documentation.
  • All three Justices either performed inadequate bank reconciliations or did not perform them at all. Although the Board audited the Justices’ records, the audits failed to identify the control weaknesses, the cash shortage, or the lack of bank reconciliations.
  • The Clerk did not establish adequate controls over her financial activities and the Board did not establish effective monitoring controls.
  • The Town has applied its substantial revenues from wind power to reducing the taxpayers’ burden and increasing the Town’s unassigned fund balance. Although we commend Town officials on their use of these moneys to reduce the tax levy and build fund balance, we urge the Board to consider developing a comprehensive, multiyear financial and capital plan for the use of the wind power revenues.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that all receipts are deposited in a timely manner and intact and that the collection of moneys is receipted with press-numbered receipts and promptly entered into the Court’s records.
  • Maintain adequate cash records to ensure that proper bank reconciliations can be performed. Perform month-end accountability analyses. Perform or contract for an effective annual audit of the Justice Court and the Clerk.
  • Keep detailed records of receipts including the form of each deposit.
  • Consider developing comprehensive multiyear financial and capital plans to provide a framework for future budgets, manage future capital needs, and determine the most prudent use of future wind power revenues.

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