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November 10, 2008

 

Audit Finds Improvement in Oneida County’s Fiscal Condition

 

Oneida County’s financial condition has improved significantly, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. This progress was largely due to increased revenues, accurate budgeting and expenditure control, and effective long-term planning. However, payroll system weaknesses in the Sheriff’s Department led to $20,000 in overtime payments that violated county policy. The audit covers the period January 2006 to September 2007.

“Oneida County has made great strides in improving its financial condition,” said DiNapoli. “Tighter controls were necessary in the Sheriff’s Department, but overall this is good news for a county that – like so many other counties across the state – is likely to face tough fiscal times ahead.”

From 2004 to 2006, auditors found that the county’s unreserved, unappropriated general fund balance increased from $5.2 million to $23.2 million. In addition, its general fund cash and investments increased from slightly more than $700,000 to $32.6 million. This was due largely to increased revenues, combined with accurate budgeting and control over expenditures, and effective long range planning. Subsequent to the audit, the county’s bond rating was upgraded to A+ for the first time in seven years.

Despite the good news, DiNapoli noted that the Sheriff’s Department did not send timesheets to the County Comptroller’s Office so they could be compared to data and verified for accuracy. In addition, the sheriff did not approve payroll reports for the Sheriff’s Office, or provide adequate supervisory review and approval over timesheets.

DiNapoli recommended that county officials:

  • develop plans to address the loss of tobacco revenue and reductions in sales tax revenue;
  • develop contingency plans in the event of unexpected changes in state or federal aid;
  • review and approve all time records for the sheriff’s secretary and the other members of the sheriff’s Administrative Division in addition to the sheriff’s payroll reports; and
  • maintain on file payroll records that clearly delineate the total number of hours that have been approved by supervisory personnel.

County officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and indicated they would take corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the audit report

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