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June 12, 2008

DiNapoli: Officials Overcharged Residents and Did Not Get Necessary Approvals for Greenburgh Sewer District

Proper state approvals were not obtained and the public was not notified when Greenburgh town officials authorized a nearly quarter million dollar cost overrun for Sewer District #4, according to an audit released by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit also found that due to miscalculations by town officials, certain residents have been over charged since 1992. Others have been under charged.

“Officials must take care not to bypass normal approval processes when it comes to spending the public’s money,” said DiNapoli. “This is particularly true in cases when the people directly affected – the taxpayers – are supposed to be updated about a project’s progress.”

The audit covers the period of 1979 – when the district was first constructed – to 2007. The unauthorized cost overrun occurred after 1982 when several payments were made between 1983 and 1989.

Auditors found that town officials:

  • Did not obtain the proper approval from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), or notify District residents, when they expended an estimated $220,000 in sewer district construction costs;
  • Did not implement appropriate internal controls to ensure that town officials updated benefit units when residents subdivided or improved their properties;
  • Over charged certain district residents by $26 for the 2007 annual assessment, and auditors estimate that the average resident would have saved $427 during the period 1989 to 2007 on sewer assessment charges; and
  • The town failed to charge five District residents for assessment charges since 1988.

DiNapoli recommended that town officials:

  • Obtain the Comptroller’s approval before authorizing cost overrun expenditures;
  • Develop internal controls to ensure that sewer assessments adequately cover capital costs;
  • Clearly explain to the public the need for sewer assessments and hook-in fee changes;
    Accurately assess charges to sewer users; and
  • Review the town’s other 18 sewer districts to be sure similar problems don’t exist there.

Town officials for the most part agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations and indicated they would take corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the report.



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