New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Center Moriches Free Public Library, Town of Harmony, Village of Hillburn, Village of Liberty, Mount Vernon IDA, Town of Villenova and the Westmere Fire District.
“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.”
The board has consistently underestimated revenues and overestimated expenditures over the past three years, which resulted in operating surpluses totaling nearly $1.6 million. This has also contributed to the accumulation of an unexpended surplus fund balance equivalent to an entire year’s budget. Also, the library does not have formal policies or procedures to ensure accountability for the cash receipts process.
Auditors found no material discrepancies with the accounting for moneys received by the court or the accuracy of bank deposits. However, the town justice did not always make deposits in a timely manner and did not perform monthly bank reconciliations and accountabilities.
The board needs to improve its oversight of the village’s financial operations. The clerk-treasurer’s duties are not segregated and village officials do not provide adequate compensating controls, such as ensuring that bank reconciliations are properly performed and reviewed.
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The proposed budgets did not include a tax overlay or provisions for infrastructure needs. Additionally, there are budget gaps in the water and sewer funds which are planned to be funded by rate increases that have not yet been adopted. The village’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
Agency officials did not have specific criteria to document how they arrived at their decisions when approving or denying projects. Several of the projects reviewed did not include a cost-benefit analysis to show that the board had justification to award low-cost financing or tax exempt status to these projects. Officials also did not adequately monitor IDA-sponsored projects to ensure that they made reasonable progress toward their employment projections or other goals stated in their applications.
Controls over purchasing are not always operating effectively. For example, auditors found that town officials did not solicit quotes for certain purchases, as required. As a result of various deficiencies, the town may have not always received the best price for goods and services.
The treasurer has not filed the district’s annual update documents (AUD) with the Office of the State Comptroller, as required, even though the accounting books were up-to-date. As of December 2013, the 2011 and 2012 AUDs had not been filed, nearly 18 months and 6 months past the deadline with a filing extension.
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.