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April 4, 2012

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the audits of the Village of Bridgewater, East Meadow Fire District, Town of Herkimer, Mattituck Park District, Village of Millerton, Town of Leon, Village of Watkins Glen, Village of Waverly and the Village of Whitehall.
           
"My office's audits of local governments improve their financial management practices," DiNapoli said. "These audits are tools for local officials to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide the best possible service these taxpayer dollars can deliver."



Village of Bridgewater – Monitoring Financial Operations and Payroll Taxes (Oneida County)
The board did not properly monitor the village’s financial operations when it failed to audit the records and reports of the clerk-treasurer, as required by village’s law and procedures. The board also failed to ensure the clerk-treasurer completed and provided necessary financial reports timely. In addition, the former clerk-treasurer withheld social security and Medicare deductions from employee’s paychecks, but did not remit these withholdings to the IRS in a timely manner. The former clerk-treasurer filed and remitted employee and employer shares of FICA payroll taxes totaling $19,469 in July 2011, representing more than 11 years of taxes due from April 2000 to June 2011. As of January 2012, the village has paid $11,213 in late fees, penalties and interest for delinquent FICA taxes.

East Meadow Fire District – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Nassau County)
The district did not enforce compliance with its credit card guidelines and purchasing policy.  District officials paid credit card claims without original receipts to substantiate the charges, did not obtain adequate quotes, and did not solicit competition in the procurement of professional service providers. The district has not assigned an individual independent of the business office to be the system administrator, which increases the risk that inappropriate financial transactions could be made. In addition, although the software has an audit trail capability which can produce reports to monitor user access, it was not turned on.

Town of Herkimer – Financial Management and Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Herkimer County)
Town officials consistently underestimated revenues and/or overestimated expenditures in three major operating funds. This resulted in operating surpluses and excessive fund balances. For example, the town-wide general fund unreserved, unappropriated fund balance as of December 2010 was $657,525 or 84 percent of the ensuing year’s budgeted expenditures for this fund. The town has not properly maintained or reconciled a water receivable control record with individual customer account balances. In addition, the board hasn’t developed procedures to insure that receipts posted to customer accounts as paid, were actually deposited in the bank. Finally, the town failed to adopt several IT policies and procedures.

Mattituck Park District – Credit Cards and Segregation of Duties (Suffolk County)
The board did not adopt a credit card policy. As a result, the district does not maintain a list of individuals who are issued the credit and purchase cards and routinely paid credit and purchase card bills without adequate documentation to support the nature and validity of each purchase. The board also did not adequately segregate the financial duties of the treasurer and the clerk.

Village of Millerton – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Dutchess County)
The board has not established adequate policies for the preparation and processing of payroll and administration of employee benefits. The deputy clerk/treasurer received $4,730 in payroll amounts that she was not entitled to, and inappropriately charged sick leave on her time sheets to maintain full-time status with the New York State and Local Retirement System. Further, the village paid the clerk $8,656 and the former working foreman $2,456 for leave time that they were not entitled to. The board also does not provide adequate oversight of the water fund’s financial operations. Finally, the village’s claims auditing process does not ensure that taxpayer funds are properly safeguarded.

Town of Leon – Justice Court Operations (Cattaraugus County)
The justice’s records and reports were in disarray and some records were missing. The justice uses duplicate receipts and docket folders as accounting records. She does not maintain a cash book and was unaware that she had to do so. Most of the court’s monthly reports were not submitted to the Justice Court Fund in a timely manner. The justice did not perform bank reconciliations or accountability analyses by reconciling court assets to known liabilities. The board did not audit the books, records, and reports of the justice or hire a public accountant for that purpose as required by law.

Village of Watkins Glen – Festival and Event Personnel Costs and Information Technology (Schuyler County)
The village incurs significant additional personnel (police and park employee) costs related to five festivals/events held in the village. Although the village’s policy for festivals and events provides for the assessment of these additional personnel costs to the festival/event organizers, the village has not charged additional fees to the organizers. As a result, the village has absorbed $21,708 in expenditures. In addition, the board has not established policies and procedures related to computer security or adopted a disaster recovery plan.  Additionally, there is no system in place for monitoring IT activity or changes in the system.

Village of Waverly – Revolving Loan Programs (Tioga County)
Village officials’ lending, monitoring, and collection procedures, as well as their internal controls over disbursing loan money, were inadequate. Further, pursuant to article 18 of the General Municipal Law, there appears to be a conflict of interest with a former board member whose business received a $40,000 loan. As of June 1, 2011, the business was 24 months delinquent in repaying this loan.

Village of Whitehall – Financial Condition and Water Accountability (Washington County)
The village’s financial condition is precarious. Water and sewer rates are not sufficient to support operating costs. In recent years both funds were dependent on loans from other funds, including the general fund. The water and sewer funds are currently unable to repay these loans. If the water and sewer funds are unable to repay the general fund, it is likely that the financial condition of the general fund will become stressed in future years. Additionally, the ability of the general fund to make additional loans to the water and sewer funds in the future will be limited by the cap on property taxes. The village also could not account for at least 148 million gallons, or 55 percent of the water it processed in 2010. The estimated cost to process and distribute the village’s unaccounted for water could be as much as $97,000 to $129,000 annually.


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