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June 16, 2011

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits for the Belfast Fire District, the Dayton Fire District, the Ellery Center Fire District, the Town of Essex, the Ransomville Fire District and the Varysburg 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."

Belfast Fire District – Internal Controls over Financial Operations (Allegany County)
The board has adopted appropriate policies for procurement and investments, but has not adopted a code of ethics. The treasurer submitted adequately detailed monthly reports to the board, filed the annual financial report for 2009 with the Office of the State Comptroller in a timely manner, and received an extension to file the 2010 report. However, the board did not review monthly bank reconciliations prepared by the treasurer to confirm that they were performed and to determine whether any differences between bank records and district records existed. Further, the board did not conduct an annual audit of the treasurer's records, as required.

Dayton Fire District – Internal Controls over Financial Operations (Cattaraugus County)
The board has established policies addressing ethics, procurement and travel. The board has also initiated a monthly audit of claims and an annual audit of the treasurer's records. However, auditors found that the district made a prepayment of $2,079 for the purchase of propane for the year. District officials indicated that the prepayment was made to save money by guaranteeing the price of the fuel. Generally, claims for goods and services should not be approved for payment until the goods or services are received to reduce the risk that district funds could be wasted.

Ellery Center Fire District – Internal Controls over Financial Operations (Chautauqua County)
Although the board does provide some oversight with respect to the treasurer function, auditors identified certain areas in need of improvement. The board has not established a policy and related procedures to address the district's procurement process, or established a code of ethics, as required. While the treasurer submits reports to the board on a monthly basis, the board does not conduct an annual audit of the treasurer's financial records, as required.

Town of Essex – Fiscal Oversight and Internal Controls over Cash Receipts (Essex County)
The board and supervisor did not provide adequate oversight of the town's financial operations to ensure that assets were adequately safeguarded. The lack of management oversight has contributed to the town having incomplete and inaccurate accounting records and inadequate internal controls over cash receipts. Therefore, the board could not rely on the accounting records to monitor the town's financial operations. In addition, the town did not receive $22,000 in payments for transfer station tickets that it sold to the Town of Willsboro. Finally, town officials could not ensure that all customers were being billed and paying for water services or that all delinquent water accounts were re-levied.

Ransomville Fire District – Internal Controls over Financial Operations (Niagara County)
Auditors found that the board generally provides adequate oversight of district financial activities. However, they found no evidence in the minutes that the board adopted a code of ethics, as required. District officials provided us with a code of ethics document, which was the model code of ethics available on the State Comptroller's website. However, in addition to there being no indication that the board had adopted this model as its code of ethics, the document did not even include the district's name in the space provided in the model. The district also needs to improve controls over fire hall rental revenues.

Varysburg Fire District – Internal Controls over Financial Operations (Wyoming County)
The board is not providing adequate fiscal oversight and has not adopted purchasing, investment and code of ethics policies, as required by statute. The board holds meetings quarterly, or as needed, but the secretary does not maintain adequate minutes to document these proceedings. Board members stated that they review the treasurer's records annually but do not document the results of this audit in the minutes. The board also does not document its review of the bank reconciliations performed by the treasurer. In addition, the treasurer does not provide monthly or periodic financial reports to the board.

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