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November 7, 2008

Westport Town Clerk Responsible
for Missing $5,616 in Taxpayer Money

Had the Town of Westport exercised greater oversight of the town clerk and instituted stronger financial controls over town finances, the town could have protected $5,616 in taxpayer money, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit, conducted at the request of the town supervisor, covered the period January 2006 to March 2008. Local law enforcement officials have been conducting an investigation of this matter.

“It’s critically important that towns properly supervise all employees, but it’s even more important to supervise employees responsible for handling taxpayer dollars,” said DiNapoli. “Every dime counts, especially in tough fiscal times. Local governments can’t wait until it’s too late to find out someone has been playing fast and loose with the public’s money.”

DiNapoli’s auditors also found that the clerk did not:

  • maintain proper accounting records or file timely financial reports to the board;
  • reconcile town ledgers with bank accounts;
  • deposit checks made out to the town for nearly three months in some cases; or
  • remit funds due to the town on a timely basis. For example, the sale of landfill tickets and license commissions totaling $9,662 were received in April, May, June and July 2006 but not remitted to the supervisor until September 7, 2006.

DiNapoli recommended that town officials:

  • ensure that all missing moneys are accounted for and repaid;
  • conduct an annual audit of the clerk’s office to help ensure that records and reports are complete and accurate, and that bank reconciliations are performed in a timely manner;
  • implement a system of controls to ensure that financial records are properly maintained, and that accurate reports are prepared and presented to the board;
  • reconcile cash assets to outstanding liabilities on a monthly basis;
  • ensure that all moneys the clerk receives are adequately accounted for and deposited into the proper accounts intact and in a timely manner; and
  • prohibit the cashing of personal checks from town funds.

Town officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and have indicated they will take corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the audit report.


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