New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Town of Croghan, Town of Dickinson, Johnstown Public Library, Town of Kiantone, Town of Lewisboro, Village of Mill Neck, Saratoga Springs Public Library, Town of Sweden, Town of Tyrone and the Town of West Union.
“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 adopted budgets that relied too heavily on fund balance as a financing source and appropriated more fund balance than it had available. The board has not developed a multiyear financial plan to address long-term priorities or a policy to determine the amount of fund balance to maintain.
The board did not effectively oversee the town’s financial operations. The supervisor did not provide the board with adequate monthly financial reports. In addition, the town’s procedures for auditing claims were not in compliance with town law.
Auditors were unable to determine if all collections were recorded and deposited in a timely manner and intact. This was because library officials have not established formal policies or procedures for handling and recording cash receipts.
The town clerk did not deposit all money collected. As of June 23, 2014, the clerk had a shortage totaling $3,147. In addition, the clerk did not record, deposit or remit money collected in an accurate and timely manner. Auditors also found the board did not provide adequate oversight of the clerk’s operations.
The town’s general, sewer and water funds all had a deficit fund balance at some point from 2009 through 2013. While officials were able to eliminate accumulated deficits in these funds by the end of 2013, they have not developed a multiyear financial plan to help monitor operations and guard against future operating deficits.
The board has not established adequate policies and procedures or provided guidance on maintaining a reasonable level of fund balance. As a result, the village has accumulated excessive fund balance in its general fund that resulted, at least in part, from unrealistic budget estimates.
Internal controls over the claims audit process were not designed appropriately. For example, not all claims included signatures from the director or department heads to indicate that goods and services were actually received. In addition, the board assigned the responsibility to audit and approve all claims for payment to the president.
The justices do not provide adequate oversight of court operations to ensure the accurate and complete collection, deposit, recording and reporting of court moneys in a timely manner. The justices have not adequately segregated the duties of the clerks and do not regularly review accounting records, bank statements, or monthly reconciliations and accountability analyses.
Town officials have not developed multiyear financial plans, policies, or procedures to govern budgeting practices or the level of unexpended surplus funds to maintain. The board adopted budgets that were not based on sound and realistic estimates of revenues and expenditures. Poor budgeting, along with overspending in the highway fund, has caused cash flow problems, which required inter-fund transfers and advances from the general fund to pay bills over the last several years.
The board has not provided adequate oversight to safeguard town assets. Specifically, the board did not adopt structurally balanced budgets. For fiscal years 2011 through 2013, the town had excessive fund balances in both the general fund and highway fund. In addition, the board did not audit the books and records of any of the town officers and employees that handled cash.
For access to state and local government spending and 50,000 state contracts, visit OpenBookNY. 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.