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December 29, 2011

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits



New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the audits of Consumer Protection: Accuracy of Weights and Measures, Corfu Fire Department, Village of Fair Haven, Village of Fleischmanns, Town of Hartwick, Town of Seneca and the West Sand Lake Fire District #1.

"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."

Consumer Protection: Accuracy of Weights and Measures
The law and regulations exist to ensure that consumers can rely on the accuracy of vendor scales and other weighing and measuring devices, and can expect to pay advertised prices for their purchases. However, two of the six counties audited did not comply with inspection requirements, and three counties failed to perform any price accuracy tests; therefore, consumers in some counties have little assurance that the goods they buy are correctly weighed or accurately priced. Counties can do a better job of protecting consumers by maintaining up-to-date inventories of retail businesses for both inspection and price testing purposes, and by documenting inspection and test results. It is also important that counties maintain complete records of the complaints they receive, and the actions they take to address them, so consumers can be confident that their concerns are investigated and resolved.

Corfu Fire Department - Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Genesee County)
Auditors did not find any material discrepancies, but did identify opportunities for department officials to strengthen existing controls to reduce the risk of errors or irregularities. The former treasurer did not reconcile the department’s bank accounts in 2010, but the current treasurer did in 2011. However, the trustees did not review these reconciliations to determine if there were inconsistencies that required further investigation. Department officials advised auditors that the trustees audit claims during a meeting held prior to the regular monthly meeting. However, auditors were unable to confirm that since no approval is indicated anywhere on the list of approved claims and no minutes were maintained.

Village of Fair Haven - Internal Controls Over Information Technology (Cayuga County)
The village needs to institute appropriate policies and procedures to protect its computerized data resources from internal and external threats. The board has not established policies and procedures related to acceptable use, computer security, or online banking.  The board also has no disaster recovery plan in place.

Village of Fleischmanns - Cost Savings and Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Delaware County)
The village could achieve annual cost savings of approximately $11,812 by reducing its unaccounted-for water to the acceptable industry standard of 10 percent. Village officials did not adequately segregate duties over real property tax collections, or implement adequate mitigating controls. Village officials also did not use a control account for real property tax receivables to ensure that the village received all the money to which it was entitled. Further, village officials did not adequately segregate duties over the water billing and collection functions, or implement sufficient controls. Village officials did not provide adequate oversight over the plant operator to ensure that sewer bills are prepared in accordance with the village’s local sewer use law and sewer budget.

Town of Hartwick - Water District Operations (Otsego County)
The board and supervisor did not ensure that all money owed to the town for water services was properly billed, collected, and accounted for. Debt service charges may not be equitably shared by all parcels located within the district and those charged for the debt service paid more than was needed to make the annual bond payment. There was also a lack of segregation of duties over the billing and collection of water service charges.

Town of Seneca - Justice Court (Ontario County)
The justices and board do not have adequate internal controls over the court’s financial operations. Specifically, the justices do not maintain an accurate computerized listing of bail, and monthly bank reconciliations and accountabilities are not performed. The board did not provide effective oversight of court operations.

West Sand Lake Fire District #1 - Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Rensselaer County)
The board generally provides adequate oversight of district financial activities. The board has been proactive in adopting policies addressing ethics, procurement, travel, credit card and vehicle use. The treasurer provides the board with monthly financial reports including cash balances and budget to actual reports, and has filed the annual financial report in a timely manner. The board also has contracted for an annual independent audit of district financial operations each year, as required. Generally, the board conducted a thorough audit of claims. The transactions were properly recorded in the accounting records, and they appeared to be for district purposes.

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