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March 11, 2013

DiNapoli: Argyle Clerk Rings Up $8K in Personal Debt on
Town Credit Card

Town Board Lacked Guidelines for Card Usage, Review and Payment

A former clerk in the Town of Argyle in Washington County used a town credit card to purchase more than $8,000 in personal expenditures, which included $2,900 to a flooring contractor and $1,500 to an insurance company, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Auditors found that from January 2009 through December 2012, the former clerk made four separate purchases totaling $8,347 that were not for town business, and accumulated late fees and finance charges totaling $2,013.

“This blatant misuse of taxpayer funds was allowed to go on because of poor oversight, the lack of segregation of duties and a pattern of poor recordkeeping,” said DiNapoli. “Our audit raises serious concerns about the town’s financial operations. Local officials, however, have indicated they are taking the necessary steps to ensure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars moving forward.”

The former clerk, who did not seek re-election in 2011, paid off the debt and admitted to improperly using the town’s credit card. The town did not pay for any of the unauthorized purchases, late fees or finance charges incurred. The town supervisor alerted auditors to the misuse during the review process and contacted local law enforcement officials. Charges were not filed because the clerk repaid the town.

Additional findings include:

  • The town board did not adopt comprehensive written guidance regarding credit card usage or conduct a proper review of credit card bills prior to making payments;
  • The former clerk did not record whether receipts were in the form of cash or check, and did not deposit moneys in a timely manner - waiting as long as 208 days before making deposits;
  • The former clerk did not deposit real property tax receipts that she collected in a timely manner;

DiNapoli’s recommendations for the town include:

  • The board should ensure that all town-issued credit cards are used for business purposes only and the monthly credit card statements are included with the monthly claims to be audited prior to payment;
  • The board and town clerk should assess the credit limit on the Clerk’s credit card account and reduce it to an appropriate level for the needs of the office;
  • The clerk should deposit all moneys intact and in a timely manner; and
  • The clerk should remit moneys collected to the town supervisor and other agencies in a timely manner.

Town officials agreed with several findings in the audit. Their comments are included in the audit report.

For a copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2013/argyle.pdf



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