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March 30, 2010



DiNapoli’s Office Completes Local Government Audits

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the following audits: Village of Nichols - Real Property Tax Collection (Tioga County); Onondaga County Water Authority - Procurement of Goods and Services (Onondaga County); Setauket Fire District – Competitive Bidding and Travel and Conference Expenses (Suffolk County); and Yonkers - Budget Review – Budget Review (Westchester County).

“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 Nichols – Real Property Tax Collection
DiNapoli’s auditors found that the tax collector failed to adequately perform his tax collection duties and responsibilities. He did not remit 141 out of 171 tax payments totaling $21,349 to the treasurer within 24 hours of receipt, exposing village funds to risk of loss. In addition, 46 of the 233 tax bills for the 2008-09 tax year totaling $6,122 did not contain sufficient information to determine the dates the tax payments were received, including any interest assessed and collected, or if the bill remained unpaid. As a result, village officials could not be sure that they had received all tax payments and interest due. Further, because the clerk failed to assess interest and penalties correctly, the village lost interest earnings on 35, or 73 percent, of the late payments totaling $199. Finally, auditors noted that the board failed to establish and monitor policies or procedures to ensure that the tax collector’s records were audited and periodically reviewed and that certain village officials were adequately bonded.

Onondaga County Water Authority – Procurement of Goods and Services
DiNapoli’s auditors found that the board has not adopted formal policies and procedures governing authority procurements. Auditors noted that authority officials did not solicit sealed bids for one procurement totaling $17,332 that was subject to legal requirements and did not solicit competition for three procurements totaling $223,915 that were not subject to legal requirements. In addition, authority management did not have a procedure to determine why it received only two bids for an annual construction and maintenance contract for three out of four years.

Setauket Fire District – Competitive Bidding and Travel and Conference Expenses
Auditors from DiNapoli’s office found that the district paid two vendors $40,154 for protective gear and uniforms without soliciting competitive bids, as required by board policy and state law. Allowing officials and employees to circumvent the purchasing policy and competitive bidding requirements can result in the district paying more than necessary for goods purchased. Auditors also found the district paid $6,757 for travel and conference expenses that did not comply with district policy.

Yonkers - Budget Review – Budget Review
DiNapoli’s auditors found that in January, city officials presented a second quarter financial report in which they project a net deficit of $3.4 million for fiscal year 2010. The main reason for the city’s projected deficit is that projected revenues are now expected to be below budget estimates. DiNapoli’s auditor’s July 2009 budget review identified many items that contribute to the city’s projected deficit. During the auditors’ current mid-year review, auditors examined a selected number of these same budget items, specifically, sales tax and interest income revenues and police and fire department overtime costs. Based on the analyses, which showed that the city’s revised sales tax revenues are still overstated, and that its revised police and fire department overtime costs are still understated, auditors concluded that the city’s deficit could be approximately $14 million. However, auditors also recognize that the city projects it will receive more revenue and spend less than was budgeted on certain other items that auditors did not examine during this mid-year review. After accounting for these items, auditors project that the city’s overall deficit could be as high as $7.2 million.

If you have any questions or would like a comment from the Comptroller’s Office regarding these audits, please contact the Press Office at 518-474-4015, or send an email to PressOffice@osc.state.ny.us.

To view the audits, click on the above link(s).

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