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March 12, 2012

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits


New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed the audits of the Town of Chateaugay, Commack Fire District, Town of Concord, Town of Ghent, Town of Hartland and the Town of Tuxedo.

"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."

Town of Chateaugay – Long-Term Planning for Wind Power Revenues (Franklin County)
The board did not develop a comprehensive, multi-year financial and capital plan, nor did it have any other mechanism in place to adequately address the town’s long-term operational and capital needs. The town has received $2,451,759 in wind power-related revenues during the period January 1, 2007, through August 31, 2011. The town’s wind power revenues have resulted in a substantial reduction in property taxes and a growing fund balance. Wind power revenues have also resulted in significant infrastructure improvements and the purchase of new equipment that would have otherwise had to be funded by property taxes. Town officials said that they have informally discussed the use of the wind power revenues but have not developed a formal long-term financial and capital plan.

Commack Fire District – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Suffolk County)
The board did not ensure that claims were audited prior to payment and did not provide adequate oversight of the treasurer’s duties. In addition, the treasurer performed virtually every aspect of financial operations with limited oversight and the board did not implement adequate compensating controls.  The treasurer also made electronic transfers and payments without any review or oversight by the board. The district did not have an adequate system of internal controls in place to ensure that its Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) service credit was accounted for properly.  The board has adopted a policy to provide guidance for the point system for the LOSAP categories; however, auditors found that district officials did not consistently follow the established board policy. In addition, district officials have not sufficiently addressed the security and safeguarding of the IT resources, systems, and financials data. Finally, the district has not developed a formal disaster recovery plan to address the effects of potential disasters.

Town of Concord – Justice Court Operations (Erie County)
Overall, the justices have established adequate processes and procedures for the court’s financial operations. The court clerks properly performed bank reconciliations and prepared accountability reports, which were an accurate reflection of assets and liabilities. Additionally, the justices periodically review court records to ensure that deposits of all receipts are timely, monthly reports agree with the cash receipts journal, and accountability reports are prepared and balanced to the bank statements. The board also has appropriately contracted with an independent public accountant to perform an annual audit of court records.

Town of Ghent – Internal Controls Over Tax Collections and Justice Court Operations (Columbia County)
The board did not establish adequate policies for the collection and distribution of tax and fee monies, or develop and implement related control procedures to monitor the collector’s operations. In addition, the board did not properly segregate the collector’s duties or audit the collector’s records, annually. As a result, four tax overpayments totaling $5,000 went undetected for months, 23 tax penalties were either not assessed or were incorrectly assessed and 52 tax payments had fees that were incorrectly assessed. Auditors also found that the court clerks’ duties were not properly segregated and the justices did not provide sufficient oversight or a review of their work. Finally, the justices did not prepare monthly accountabilities comparing their cash amounts to their liabilities.

Town of Hartland – Fleet Management (Niagara County)
The board did not adopt a fleet management policy or complete a formal needs assessment before adding new vehicles or equipment to the fleet. The highway superintendent did not maintain key records, such as daily use logs and vehicle/equipment repair costs, which the board would need for conducting a comprehensive review of utilization. As a result, town officials may be purchasing vehicles and/or equipment that is not fully utilized, and the fleet of vehicles and heavy equipment may be larger than necessary for the town’s needs.

Town of Tuxedo – Procurement of Goods and Services (Orange County)
Town officials did not use competitive methods when procuring goods and services that were not subject to the competitive bidding requirements. Town officials did not seek competition for the 19 purchases made during our audit period, totaling $91,113, for which the town’s purchasing policy required quotes or proposals. In addition, although not required by law or town policy, the town did not seek competition when engaging 10 professional service providers at a cost of $326,362. Furthermore, the town had not entered into formal contracts with nine of the providers.

 

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