New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Town of Berkshire, Chestertown Fire District, Town of DeKalb, Town of Hartford, Town of Taylor and the West Hempstead Water 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."
Justices did not accurately and completely collect, record, deposit, disburse or report court money in a timely manner. Neither justice properly pursued collections for those cases where defendants failed to appear in court. Over 230 Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) cases from 2011 through June 2016 remained outstanding. Based on the town's average dismissal rate and average fines for adjudicated VTL cases, auditors estimate these outstanding tickets equate to approximately $33,000 in unearned revenues for the town.
The board did not implement claims processing procedures to ensure claims were adequately supported, properly authorized and for valid district purposes. Without a thorough and deliberate examination of the individual claims and supporting documentation, the board does not have enough information to determine whether the claims it approves are appropriate and legitimate, and there is an increased risk that improper claims could be paid.
Town officials did not adequately oversee the town's financial operations and did not ensure that accounting records were properly safeguarded. In addition, the town has accumulated excessive funds in the general town-wide fund. The board has not developed a policy to govern the level of fund balance to be maintained or adopted multiyear financial and capital plans to adequately address the town's long-term priorities.
The board has not established adequate procedures for online banking or the security of electronic information. In addition, the board has not developed computer security and disaster recovery plans.
The board should adopt a policy to establish the level of fund balance to be maintained and create long-term plans that set forth the town's financial objectives and goals. Auditors also noted that the town bookkeeper maintains custody of the bank statements, prepares the checks and abstracts, records all transactions and performs the bank reconciliations without any additional oversight.
The district currently holds individual whole life insurance policies with face values totaling $280,000 for seven employees, officers and former officers who were provided these benefits by board resolution As of December 31, 2015, these policies had a combined cash surrender value of $119,871. Because General Municipal Law only authorizes group life insurance for officers and employees of a water district, the district is not authorized to offer individual life insurance policies for its managerial employees and board members by board resolution.
For access to state and local government spending and 50,000 state contracts, visit 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.