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May 17, 2012

 

DiNapoli: Fire District Mismanaged Funds

Audit Finds Questionable Payments, Gifts to Members

The Thiells-Roseville Fire District made more than $60,000 in questionable payments and inappropriate gifts, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Local taxpayers should not be footing the bill for expensive jewelry or other questionable purchases,” said DiNapoli. “This audit clearly demonstrates what can happen when proper financial controls aren’t in place. I urge the district to make significant changes to its financial practices.”

The Thiells-Roseville Fire District is located in the Town of Haverstraw in Rockland County.

In reviewing district records from 2009 through 2011, DiNapoli’s auditors identified more than $60,000 in questionable payments and other financial transactions that were a misuse of public funds.  These included:

  • $9,285 in purchases that may not be necessary expenses of the district, such as annual buyer club memberships and restaurant dining;
  • More than $6,000 in credit card purchases, including $2,300 for a widescreen television and $1,509 for lodging, with no supporting documentation;
  • $2,000 for unjustified cellular phone services; and
  • A $1,875 diamond ring purchased by the board for a retiring chief and $385 watch for a retiring commissioner.
DiNapoli’s auditors also found the fire district board failed to provide adequate oversight of the treasurer’s online banking activities that included 22 electronic transfers totaling more than $1 million during the years covered in the audit.

DiNapoli’s audit recommended that the board:
  • Adopt procurement, credit card and cellular phone policies.
  • Cease the practice of gifting, other than tokens of appreciation for service to the community.
  • Adopt procedures to segregate the treasurer’s duties, such as bank reconciliation review and online banking confirmations.
  • Adopt an online banking policy and provide adequate monitoring of electronic transfers.
  • Require all original invoices and supporting documentation to be attached to claims when auditing the claims and ensure that the claims are for actual and necessary district expenses.
  • Ensure that the annual foreign fire insurance premium tax moneys are properly received and distributed, and their use reported annually to the State Comptroller’s Office.

The district’s board generally agreed with the audit’s conclusions and has pledged to institute the recommendations.

A copy of the complete audit can be found here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/firedists/2012/thiellsroseville.pdf


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