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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 Huntington – Payroll and Legal Services (2013M-28)

Released: May 24, 2013 -- [read complete report - pdf]


Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to review employee payroll and payments for legal services for the period January 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012.

Background

The Town of Huntington is located in Suffolk County and has a population of approximately 191,000. The Town Board consists of five elected officials, the Town Supervisor and four Board members. Total Town expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2011 were $200 million.

Key Findings

  • The Town may have higher payroll costs than necessary because Town officials did not monitor and control these costs. The Town routinely pays supervisors for overtime that may not be necessary because overtime is not pre-approved and actual overtime hours are not recorded. For just one month, the Town paid 15 supervisors who reported arriving prior to their normal work schedule a total of $15,000 in overtime. If earlier starts are actually necessary, the Town could save $179,000 a year in overtime costs by adjusting the arrival times on supervisors’ schedules and by controlling overtime use.
  • The Town allowed employees to maintain leave accrual balances that were much higher than those permitted by contract bargaining agreements.
  • The Town contracted with 23 attorneys, who were paid a total of $1.9 million during our audit period, without using the request for proposals (RFP) process outlined in the Town’s procurement policy. Further, although the Town had written agreements with these attorneys, the agreements did not require that invoices for legal services provide detail about the basis for the amounts charged.

Key Recommendations

  • Review supervisor overtime and determine if it is necessary for supervisors to be at work earlier. Institute procedures to document pre-approval of overtime and written justification of why the overtime is necessary.
  • Allow employees to carry over only the number of vacation days that are allowed under the collective bargaining agreements and limit leave accrual balances in accordance with these agreements.
  • Consider using a RFP process to procure professional service providers. Ensure that invoices submitted by outside attorneys contain an itemized description of the service provided and the time spent providing the service.

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