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January 24, 2013

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the City of Beacon, Midway Fire District, Niagara Falls Housing Authority, Orleans County, Town of Otto and the Village of Spring Valley.

“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 Beacon – Internal Controls Over Cash Receipts and Information Technology (Dutchess County)
City officials did not exercise proper oversight of cash receipts from waste water, parks and recreation, or building permit fees. Internal controls over the issuance of parking tickets were not established to provide reasonable assurance that all tickets were accounted for. Procedures for the collection and payment of delinquent taxes are not in compliance with the law. In addition, city officials did not adopt a comprehensive IT security plan, disaster recovery plan or breach notification policy.

Midway Fire District – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Albany County)
The district board audits claims, however, the audit of some claims was not in compliance with town law. Although the Board approves claims at its monthly meetings, the district treasurer processes and pays certain claims prior to the board’s audit. In addition, district officials passed a resolution to pay “recurring” bills prior to the board’s audit instead of the specific exceptions allowed by town law.

Niagara Falls Housing Authority – Compensation-Related Payments to the Executive Director (Niagara County)
The authority’s executive director received $6,400 in improper stipends and sold back more unused vacation leave than her employment contract allowed. She has improperly accrued more vacation leave than authorized without board approval. In addition, certain payments to the director were not supported with appropriate documentation and failed to comply with the terms of her employment contract.

Orleans County – Department of Social Services (2012M-222)
The county processes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications accurately and in a timely manner. The county’s process, however, could be improved. Auditors identified 27 duplicate payments for 13 clients, totaling $7,523. This was due to inadequate communication between social welfare examiners in two different county Social Services programs. In addition, some SNAP cases lacked certain documentation such as age, identity, income, shelter, or recertification.

Town of Otto – Town Clerk and Tax Collector (Cattaraugus County)
Internal controls over the town clerk were not operating effectively, which allowed a shortage of $4,134 to occur and not be detected. The clerk had no record of payment or enforcement of unpaid sewer bills totaling approximately $8,500 including her own, which totaled $950. The clerk also discarded tax stubs which prevented auditors from verifying if she paid $970 of her own taxes. Additionally, the clerk received $2,600 in duplicate payments for tax bills that have not been refunded to the appropriate taxpayers or banks. Town board members and the clerk failed to address similar audit findings in 1999 and 2001.

Village of Spring Valley – Financial Activities and Information Technology (Rockland County)
The village board has not established, or reviewed and updated, policies as required by law. The board has not audited claims to ensure that all payments are supported and in compliance with the village’s procurement policy. Also, the board has not adopted a sufficient disaster recovery plan or information breach notification policy.

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