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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 Potsdam – Justice Court (2014M-014)


Released: April 10, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the Court’s records and reports for the period January 1, 2009 through August 5, 2013.

Background

The Town of Potsdam (Town) is located in St. Lawrence County and has a population of approximately 16,000. The Town Court has jurisdiction over vehicle and traffic, criminal, civil and small claims cases brought before it. The Town Justices’ (Justices’) principle duties involve adjudicating legal matters within the Court’s jurisdiction and administering moneys collected from fines, bails, surcharges, and civil fees. During 2012, the Court reported $167,497 in fines, fees and surcharges to the Justice Court Fund.

Key Findings

  • The Court’s liabilities exceeded the Justices’ total available cash, resulting in a cash shortage of $117,120 during the audit period.
  • Fines and fees were originally entered into the Court’s computerized program when received, but were later altered to change the receipt dates to a different month, and the receipt numbers were deleted.
  • Receipts were not reported to the Justice Court Fund (JCF) as required, and the moneys were not remitted to the Town Supervisor.
  • The Court did report these tickets to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as being paid and/or disposed, but did not report them to the JCF.

Key Recommendations

  • Take action to recover any moneys due to the Town and/or New York State.
  • The Court should use pre-numbered duplicate receipts and account for them in a consecutive numerical sequence.
  • Periodically compare a sample of receipts in the computer records with the monthly reports to the JCF.
  • Periodically compare receipts that are reported to the DMV to the receipts reported to the JCF.

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