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December 20, 2011

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits



New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the audits of the Village of Ellicottville, Hoosick Falls Joint Fire District, Luzerne-Hadley Fire District, Town of New Lebanon, South New Berlin Fire District and the Dewitt Fire District.

"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 Ellicottville - Internal Controls Over Water and Justice Court Operations (Cattaraugus County)
The village's system has water loss of approximately 84 percent, which is significantly higher than the 10 percent goal set by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Village officials were not aware of the extent of the water loss because they do not monitor the amount of water produced versus the amount billed to customers. The lost water represents $624,000 in lost revenue annually. The village has also over- or under-billed certain customers for water and sewer services. Finally, internal controls over court operations were not designed appropriately or operating effectively to properly account for financial transactions.

Hoosick Falls Joint Fire District - Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Rensselaer County)
The board generally provides adequate oversight of district financial activities. However, when fieldwork started in August 2011, auditors found that the treasurer had not filed the 2010 annual financial report and an independent audit of the district's records had not been completed for the 2010 fiscal year. As of October 31, 2011, the district still had not completed these reports. Additionally, while the board minutes stated that the board approved claims for payment, the minutes did not include a corresponding list of approved claims and there were no signatures or other evidence of approval included on the claims. Disbursements were supported by adequate documentation and appeared to be for district purposes.



Luzerne-Hadley Fire District - Internal Controls over the Length of Service Award Program (Saratoga and Warren Counties)
The board established points for fire calls that were inconsistent with the General Municipal Law. In addition, the district was providing credit for activities that did not meet General Municipal Law or district policy qualifications. Further, the board did not ensure that credits were accurately recorded, and did not certify the points awarded to members for service credits. As a result, members may have received annual service credit to which they were not entitled.

Town of New Lebanon - Justice Court Operations (Columbia County)
Internal controls over the court's financial activities are significantly deficient. The lack of basic controls has placed court moneys at significant risk of loss, misuse and fraud. In fact, auditors identified over $9,000 in unaccounted-for funds and a questionable transaction of $2,190. The issues in this report have been referred to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct for further investigation.

South New Berlin Fire District - Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Chenango County)
The board has not adopted purchasing or investment policies or a code of ethics, as required by statute, and has not developed written procedures concerning financial recording and reporting. Although the treasurer was maintaining accurate cash balances for the district's saving accounts, she did not maintain an accurate running cash balance for the district's checking account. Therefore, the treasurer was not able to reconcile cash to the monthly bank statement balance. In addition, while the treasurer did submit monthly financial reports to the board, she has not filed the district's required annual financial report with the Comptroller since 2006. Finally, the board does not conduct an annual audit of the treasurer's records or contract with an independent auditor to perform such an audit to ensure that district funds were used for legitimate district purposes.

Dewitt Fire District - Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Onondaga County)
The board provides adequate oversight of district financial activities. Financial activity was properly recorded and supported with appropriate documentation and disbursements appeared to be for district purposes.


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