New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Village of Aurora, Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, Germantown Fire District, Town of New Albion, City of New Rochelle, Village of Port Dickinson and the Town of Schuyler.
“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 treasurer performs virtually all of the village’s financial operations without board oversight. The treasurer performs all aspects of processing payroll including adding and deleting employees, recording hours worked, maintaining leave records and signing checks. Village officials do not adequately review payroll records, including the treasurer’s timesheet, prior to payroll checks being printed. In addition, the village does not have policies and procedures in place to safeguard IT assets.
The treasurer disbursed moneys without explicit prior authorization and there was no evidence that the audit committee reviewed the treasurer’s books and records to ensure they fairly represented actual expenses. Furthermore, fundraising chairpersons and the treasurer did not provide receipts for donations.
The board did not properly award a contract for $4,800 that was determined to be a prohibited conflict of interest; has not adopted key policies and procedures; and does not properly plan for reserves or capital expenditures. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the district had $398,000 in reserves but did not have a formal plan regarding the use of these funds.
The prior town justice did not establish adequate internal controls over the court’s financial operations. The town board did not properly audit the prior justice’s records and reports or document that such an audit occurred in the board minutes.
The city currently has a stable financial condition. The city’s general fund unassigned fund balance has increased from $1.6 million to $6.1 million from fiscal years 2011 through 2013. However, two funds − the capital projects fund and the internal service fund − reported deficits in 2013.
Village officials did not develop structurally balanced budgets for the general fund and did not ensure that sewer rates generated sufficient revenues to cover sewer fund costs over the last six fiscal years. As a result, the general fund balance declined from $219,000 to a negative balance of $19,000 and the sewer fund balance declined from $94,000 to $18,000.
The board has not established adequate policies and procedures for providing guidance on maintaining a reasonable level of fund balance. As a result, the town has accumulated excessive fund balances in the general fund and sewer district fund that resulted, at least in part, from unrealistic budget estimates.
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.