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December 29, 2010

 

DiNapoli: $110,000 in Unauthorized Leave Accruals & Benefits Paid Out by Village of Lake Placid



The Village of Lake Placid made $111,058 in unauthorized payments to employees for leave accruals, including $22,774 paid to the village clerk for accruals she was not entitled to, and benefits to former employees because of woefully inadequate oversight of the village’s financial operations, according to an audit by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“A disregard for fiscal monitoring cost Lake Placid taxpayers more than $110,000,” DiNapoli said.  “Lake Placid has to get its fiscal house in order and fast. In these tough economic times, local governments must be more vigilant than ever in exercising their financial responsibilities to protect taxpayer resources from abuse and errors.”

DiNapoli’s audit, covering August 2008 through October 2009, found the village board did not sufficiently monitor the village’s financial operations to ensure that its assets were safeguarded.  The lack of board oversight resulted in improper and unauthorized payments and increased the potential for fraud and abuse to occur without being detected.

The audit determined the overall lack of management oversight over payroll functions allowed significant errors and irregularities to occur and go undetected, which resulted in $93,085 in unauthorized leave accrual payments to be made to village employees when their contracts did not allow for such payments. Specifically, auditors found:

  • $38,003 in unauthorized payments to the clerk for 1,384 hours in leave accruals, including $22,774 of improper payments for accruals she had not earned;
  • $40,111 in unauthorized payments for 1,306 hours in leave time to seven department heads;
  • $14,971 in unauthorized payments to six additional employees for leave time;
  • $11,698 in health insurance payments for former employees whose coverage should have been terminated when they ceased working for the village; and
  • $6,275 in dental insurance payments for retirees who were no longer eligible for coverage.

The audit also found the village under billed some water and sewer customers by $9,177 and over billed other water and sewer customers by $4,993. In other cases, the village did not bill customers for any services provided and did not track customer usage so there was no way to determine how much the customers should have been billed. In addition, the village did not always comply with competitive bidding laws.

DiNapoli’s audit recommends village officials:

  • take immediate action to strengthen the village's safeguards over its assets and establish a system for proper management of village financial operations;
  • properly segregate payroll duties so errors and abuse do not go unnoticed;
  • collect improper payments and benefits that were made to village employees to which they were not entitled; and
  • effectively oversee time keeping and hours worked to ensure employees maintain accurate time records.

The village generally agreed with the audit’s findings and indicated it would initiate corrective action. The village’s full response is included in the audit.

To view the audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2010/lakeplacid.pdf.


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