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August 04, 2011


Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits for the City of Binghamton, Town of Elma, Elmont Fire District, Town of Farmersville, Orange County, Town of Orange, Village of Penn Yan and the Village of Sherman.

"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."

City of Binghamton - Financial Operations (Broome County)
While the accounting records report the general fund's unreserved, unappropriated fund balance as more than $2.8 million, this amount is overstated by $551,287 because of misstatements of receivables and because of liabilities in other funds that the general fund would have to absorb. City officials could not account for over $20,400 in cash receipts in the treasurer's office. After city employees discovered receipts were missing, the former treasurer confessed to stealing about $17,400 of this amount and has pleaded guilty to one felony count of fourth-degree grand larceny. Also, over $13,000 was unaccounted for in relation to parking operations.

Town of Elma - Enforcement of Unpaid Water Rents (Erie County)
The board and town officials are not complying with the procedures set forth in town law and their water ordinance regarding the enforcement of unpaid water rents through the re-levy process. The current process for collecting on delinquent accounts is not structured to ensure the payment of outstanding balances. In November 2010, the town's water accounts that were 90 days past due amounted to approximately $28,900; however, at that time the town re-levied only $985 in outstanding water charges on the town 2011 tax roll.

Elmont Fire District - Board Oversight (Nassau County)
The board has not adopted and enforced a written policy governing the proper use of credit cards. The district paid for credit card charges that served no district purpose or were inappropriate, such as tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game costing $1,196, and purchases of $699 at a local restaurant, including $100 for beer. The district also paid a commissioner's $1,840 charge for a meal at a Baltimore restaurant without requiring any documentation. The board also appointed a treasurer who lacked the criteria to perform public officer duties, and key budget controls were not implemented or effective to restrict and monitor budgetary activity. Finally, financial reports such as the annual update document and audited financial statements did not contain correct information.

Town of Farmersville - Financial Management (Cattaraugus County)
The board does not properly manage town finances by ensuring that budgets are reasonable, realistic and monitored. Town officials have routinely appropriated more fund balance in the general fund and highway fund than was available at year end to finance the ensuing year's appropriations.

Orange County - Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation
Two golf courses operated by the county performed poorly compared to national averages. The county-run golf courses could have collected an additional $578,638 in net income during 2008 and 2009 if the courses had achieved the national average percentages for operating margin.

Town of Orange - Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Schuyler County)
The board did not receive or require interim financial reports from the supervisor to monitor the town's financial operations or for use in the preparation of the budget and annual audits were not conducted as required. The board adopted the same budget year after year, with no consideration of actual revenue and expenditure amounts. The board did not formally approve salaries, pay rates, or benefits for town officials and employees not covered by the highway department employees' collective bargaining agreement. Finally, the supervisor did not open and respond to Internal Revenue Service notifications. The IRS levied the town's bank accounts in the amount of $11,317, which included $4,338 in penalties, interest and charges for payroll taxes that had not been remitted.

Village of Penn Yan - Fire Department Operations (Yates County)
The board entered into contracts with nearby towns to provide fire protection services. However, the board entered into the contracts in 1980 and extended those contracts through May 31, 2011 rather than entering into new contracts at least once every five years as required. The village made quarterly payments totaling $42,500 to the fire department that provided fire protection services through the companies. While such a payment can be made, the rural contract extensions did not document the consent of the companies and it did not contain a provision for the payment. The board also did not always audit and approve claims or require that verbal requests for proposals or quotes were obtained, as required by their procurement policy.

Village of Sherman - Internal Controls Over Water and Sewer Operations (Chautauqua County)
Internal controls were not adequately established to safeguard village water and sewer assets. A reconciliation of water produced to water billed for the nine quarters ending October 2010 showed water loss that averaged 50 percent of water produced. Also, the board has not established policies or procedures for the billing and collection of water and sewer charges. The board did not properly segregate the duties of the village clerk-treasurer or implement compensating controls.

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