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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Report Highlights

Town of Westfield - Real Property Acquisition (2019M-119)

Released: November 22, 2019 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Audit Objective

Determine whether Town officials properly acquired real property for a Town purpose.

Key Findings

  • Although the purchase of property for historical preservation is legally allowed, Town officials did not use a thorough process.
  • Town officials expended $361,000 acquiring property for historical preservation. At the time of purchase, the property had an estimated full market value of $243,000.

Key Recommendations

  • Use a thorough process that fully considers all suitable options and long-term implications prior to the acquisition of property.
  • Obtain one or more independent appraisals on real property the Town intends to purchase or sell to help ensure the price is reasonable.

Town officials disagreed with our findings and recommendations. Appendix B includes our comment on an issue raised in the Town’s response.

Background

The Town of Westfield (Town) is located in Chautauqua County. The elected five-member Town Board (Board) is responsible for managing operations and finances. The Town Supervisor (Supervisor) is a member of the Board and serves as the chief fiscal officer. The Town provides various services to its taxpayers, including road maintenance, snow removal, water, sewer and refuse services, a small boat harbor and general government support.

The Town purchased real property, located in the Town, in January 2014. The property includes a 48,000 square foot office building built in 1910 with an addition in 1968, and 13 acres of land. Three tenants lease approximately 13,700 square feet (29 percent) of space in the building and the remaining space is unoccupied.

Quick Facts
Population4,896
2019 General Fund Appropriations$2.1 million
Property Purchase Pricea$361,000
2018 Lease Revenues$209,000
2018 Building Expenditures$182,200
a Includes closing costs of approximately $3,500

Audit Period

January 1, 2013 – May 15, 2019


Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.ny.gov
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236