DiNapoli: Buchanan Can’t Account For $365,000
Raised For Construction of Community Center
Buchanan village officials never used $365,000 in grants originally meant to construct a community center that was never built, and cannot account for how the moneys were spent, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“These grants were supposed to build an asset for the community and save taxpayers money,” said DiNapoli. “Now there’s no record of where the money went. Local governments should know where every dime goes.”
According to the audit, the village received $100,000 from the New York Power Authority and $15,000 from Westchester County in 2000. In 2001, it received $250,000 from Entergy Corporation. And, even though the village spent $5,000 for architectural drawings in 2001, the center was never built.
DiNapoli’s auditors found that the village deposited the moneys into the village’s general fund, without creating a separate account to segregate it from other village moneys. Although village officials did not have a complete accounting of how the moneys were used, they told auditors they spent it on rehabilitating existing structures in the village recreation area and the highway garage. Further, the village administrator said the village received estimates for the project that were not within the budget and the project was abandoned. However, officials could not present auditors with construction cost estimates or any board action stating that the village could not build the center for lack of funding.
Auditors also found that the village did not solicit competition for professional services, and did not adequately review vouchers to be sure payment claims made with the village were valid.
DiNapoli recommended that village officials:
- Attempt to determine how the $365,000 in grants for the community center project was used;
- Oversee the use of gifts and donations to ensure that funds are used for their intended purpose;
- Deposit funds in a separate bank account and maintain separate donation accounting records;
- Require price competition such as RFPs and quotes when purchasing goods and services exempt from competitive bidding; and
- Ensure that claims are properly audited prior to payment.
Village officials were given the opportunity to respond to the findings and recommendations, however, they did not respond. Their comments would have been included in the audit report.
For a copy of the release, click here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2010/buchanan.pdf.