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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

November 17, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

State Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Town of Berkshire, Bethlehem Public Library, Town of Cherry Valley, City of Cohoes, Town of Deerpark, Town of Deposit, East Aurora Volunteer Fire Department, Town of East Hampton, Town of Edinburg, Village of Fort Ann, Town of Islip Industrial Development Agency, Town of Laurens, Volunteer Firemen’s Benevolent Association of North Tonawanda, Town of Ogden, Town of Otsego, Town of Sardinia, Village of Schuylerville, Town of Sidney, Sidney Fire Department, Slingerlands Fire District, and the Town of Stony Point.

“In today’s fiscal climate, budget transparency and accountability for our local communities is a top priority,” said DiNapoli. “By auditing municipal finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”

Town of Berkshire – Town Clerk (Tioga County)
The town clerk did not properly safeguard taxpayer funds. As a result, auditors could not determine if the clerk is receiving, recording, depositing, disbursing and reporting all the money owed to the town and/or paid to her. In addition, the clerk and code enforcement officer failed to compare the money received for building permits with the permits actually issued.

Bethlehem Public Library – Selected Cash Receipts (Albany County)
The board has established adequate internal controls for processing over-the-counter cash receipts to ensure that all cash collections are properly accounted for and deposited timely and intact. These controls include policies and procedures that provide guidance to the library staff involved in the cash collection process. The procedures also adequately segregate duties within the cash collection process to ensure that no one individual controls all phases of a transaction.

Town of Cherry Valley – Budget Review (Otsego County)
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the preliminary budget are reasonable, except for the estimated revenues from Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements. Although the budget does slightly raise taxes for all funds, town officials did not include a contingency amount in the budget, which would provide for anticipated events and could help to improve the town’s financial position. The town has adopted a local law to override the tax levy limit in 2015.

City of Cohoes – Purchasing (Albany County)
Because city officials did not consistently seek appropriate competition for purchases, they cannot assure taxpayers that they are obtaining the best price possible, as well as the desired quality and quantity, for goods and services. Auditors found the city made purchases totaling $145,759 from three vendors without using competitive bidding or state contract pricing, as required by law.

Town of Deerpark – Budget Review (Orange County)
The revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The town’s preliminary budget complies with the property tax levy limit.

Town of Deposit – Budget Review (Broome County)
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. Additionally, town officials have increased the real property tax levy for the general fund and implemented cost saving measures in the highway funds to help address the town’s declining financial condition. The town has adopted a local law to override the tax levy limit in 2015.

East Aurora Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. – Controls Over Financial Activities (Erie County)
The treasurer did not prepare adequate monthly reports. Auditors found the treasurer’s monthly financial reports consisted of a listing of department bank account balances. However, the department bylaws require the treasurer to keep a complete record of all funds received and disbursed and furnish a report showing this activity at the department’s regular meetings.

Town of East Hampton – Budget Review (Suffolk County)
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget are reasonable. The town’s 2015 tentative budget complies with the property tax cap levy limit.

Town of Edinburg – Justice Court Operations (Saratoga County)
The town justice did not maintain complete and accurate accounting records. Bank reconciliations, month-end accountabilities and reports submitted to the state Justice Court Fund were not accurate. Also, the justice did not maintain adequate case files and did not take appropriate action to ensure that fines and fees were collected in a timely manner.

Village of Fort Ann – Financial Condition (Washington County)
The village board consistently appropriated excessive amounts of fund balance in the general fund to finance operations which caused this fund to be in fiscal stress at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. The board also overestimated expenditures for the water and sewer funds with the intention of increasing the levels of fund balance to guard against unforeseen repairs and finance future capital costs.

Town of Islip Industrial Development Agency – Controls Over Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) (Suffolk County)
The agency’s process for billing, collecting and recording of PILOTs was efficient and payments were accurately billed and collected. However, PILOT payments were not always distributed to affected taxing jurisdictions within 30 days, as required by law.

Town of Laurens – Budget Review (Otsego County)
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget are reasonable. To address fiscal concerns, the board has proposed real property tax levy increases in the general and highway town-wide funds. However, these increases alone may not fully address the town’s potential for fiscal stress. The town’s tentative budget complies with the property tax levy limit.

Volunteer Firemen’s Benevolent Association of North Tonawanda – Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Moneys (Niagara County)
The board did not ensure that foreign fire insurance tax moneys were spent in accordance with the special act that created the association. Although the 106 payments made during 2013 totaling $49,545 were supported with itemized claims, it is unclear if they were all proper because the association bylaws were not adequately detailed regarding allowable expenditures.

Town of Ogden – Financial Management and Justice Court (Monroe County)
Town officials have not developed adequate policies, procedures or financial plans to govern budgeting practices and the amount of unexpended surplus funds to maintain. The board has repeatedly adopted budgets with unrealistic estimates of revenues, expenditures and the amount of fund balance that would be used. Therefore, the town has levied more real property taxes than necessary and accumulated a significant amount of unexpended surplus funds.

Town of Otsego – Financial Condition (Otsego County)
The budgets for the town’s four operating funds varied significantly from the actual results each year. Over a four-year period, auditors found each of the funds’ estimates generally varied from actual results. For example, the general town-wide and highway part-town funds overestimated revenues and expenditures; the general part-town fund underestimated revenues and overestimated expenditures; and the highway town-wide fund underestimated both revenues and expenditures.

Town of Sardinia – Tax Relief Rebate Program (Erie County)
Auditors reviewed the local law adopted by the town board establishing a tax relief rebate program and a sample of tax rebates issued during the 2013 fiscal year. Because the State Constitution prohibits towns from loaning or giving money to any private corporation or person, including property owners and residents, the town lacked authority to issue the tax refunds to property owners without a special act from the State Legislature.

Village of Schuylerville – Procurement (Saratoga County)
Village officials did not always use competitive procedures for the procurement of goods and services as required by law. Auditors found a contract for public work for $51,150 and two equipment purchase contracts for $50,000 and $109,970 that were not competitively bid. As a result, the village may have incurred higher costs than necessary.

Town of Sidney – Budget Review (Delaware County)
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the preliminary budget are reasonable. However, the town’s projections for rental income in the hospital fund were not based on amounts expected to be received according to current lease agreements. The town’s preliminary budget complies with the property tax levy limit.

Sidney Fire Department and Related Fire Companies – Financial Activities (Delaware County)
The board did not ensure that cash disbursements and receipts were properly accounted for because it did not implement proper internal controls over the department and the three companies. Auditors found that 134 of the department’s and companies’ expenditures totaling $47,093 lacked sufficient support and/or board approval to verify that they were appropriate.

Slingerlands Fire District – Professional Services (Albany County)
District officials did not obtain quotes or requests for proposals for most professional services during the audit period. The district made payments to eight professional service vendors totaling $153,238 for six types of services. In 2013, the cost of these services consisted of $84,584 for insurance coverage, $11,086 for legal services, $10,675 for physician services, $7,800 for investment management services, $5,000 for external audit services and $650 for engineering services.

Town of Stony Point – Claims Processing and Purchasing (Rockland County)
The town’s claims processing policies and procedures are adequate. Board members approve the payment of claims against the town each month by reviewing and signing an abstract listing current claims for goods and services provided.

 

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For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

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