New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed an audit of the Town of Cohocton, a budget review for the City of Yonkers and an audit of parkland alienation in 11 municipalities.
“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 town had a cash shortage of $38,136 in the clerk’s office: $29,322 from the tax collection account and $8,814 in clerk fees. Auditors identified numerous questionable deposits that were made into the tax account and may have been made by the clerk in an attempt to conceal the shortage in tax collections. The clerk was arrested last year and pled guilty to grand larceny, and was sentenced to four months in jail and five years of probation and paid $36,000 restitution to the town.
The city’s proposed budget for the school district has a budget gap of $25.8 million. In addition, the city has appropriated $37.5 million, or approximately 52 percent of the available fund balance, in its general fund in the 2015-16 proposed budget. The city’s use of fund balance to close gaps in the budget decreases the fund balance that is available to cover unforeseen shortfalls in revenue or unexpected expenditures. The city will also have to increase rates for metered water and sewer rents by 31 percent and 50 percent, respectively, to realize additional amounts included in the proposed budget. The city’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
Auditors examined how municipalities complied with state laws when conveying parkland to a non-public entity or using public parkland for another purpose. Several municipalities did not comply with all of the statutory requirements, including one municipality that has not used the proceeds from its parkland alienation transaction to acquire new parkland or make capital improvements as required. Several others did not take steps to determine fair market value of the parklands alienated or replacement parcels.
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.