New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Town of Arietta, Buffalo Sewer Authority, Town of Cheektowaga, Town of Dover, Village of Ellicottville, Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District, Village of Malverne, Village of Pelham, Rochester Land Bank Corporation, Schroon Lake Fire District, Village of Speculator and the Village of Walton.
"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 unrealistic budgets for the general fund and highway fund during the 2013 through 2015 fiscal years. Appropriations were overestimated by more than $925,000 for the general fund and $820,000 for the highway fund, and the board appropriated unneeded fund balance. The board's budgeting practices made it appear that the town needed to both raise taxes and use fund balance to close projected budget gaps. However, the general fund realized operating surpluses in each of the last three fiscal years, totaling $456,597.
Authority officials control gate entry to the treatment plant but do not adequately monitor trucked in waste and ensure that all waste discharged is properly billed and complies with discharge limitations. IWS personnel do not measure or verify the amount of liquid and/or slush waste trucked in for treatment and disposal; instead, they allow haulers to self-report on the volume in their loads. As a result, the authority could be losing out on as much as $300,000 in annual revenues.
As of October 2016, the director of administration and finance had issued credit cards to 57 employees. The cards had credit limits ranging from $500 to $90,000 with a combined total credit limit of $730,000, and eight individuals had credit limits in excess of statutory bidding thresholds and could make purchases without obtaining competition as required. Although the director established credit limits for each card, he did not establish dollar limits for individual purchases, set daily limits or block certain types of vendors as required by the policy.
Town officials did not receive annual financial statements from the fire company and did not review response logs to monitor fire company operations to ensure services are provided according to the contract.
Auditors reviewed 21 purchases totaling $784,364 and found village officials generally followed the procurement policy and General Municipal Law for 15 of these purchases. However, village officials did not competitively bid the purchase of a truck for $23,682 and did not obtain quotes, as required by the procurement policy, for five purchases totaling $75,334.
The board adopted written cash receipts and disbursements policies in January 2017, but no written policies or procedures were in place during the audit period. The board adopted an annual resolution granting the treasurer the authority to pay specific recurring claims. However, the board did not perform an audit or review district claims.
Village officials have not enforced compliance with the village's procurement policy and did not obtain sufficient quotes for purchases not subject to bidding requirements. As a result, the board does not have adequate assurance that goods and services are purchased at the best price.
Village officials have not implemented appropriate policies and procedures for monitoring acceptable use as defined by village policy, breach notification or disaster recovery and have not entered into a formal contract with the village's IT service provider. Consequently, there is an increased risk that IT assets and information could be compromised and that affected individuals may not be notified.
Land bank officials monitor the number of homes rehabilitated and sold by the subcontractor and all 10 projects we reviewed were awarded to the lowest bidders. However, officials do not adequately monitor other aspects of performance, such as the selection of construction managers, awarding of contracts for projects or subcontractor performance.
Auditors reviewed all 567 withdrawals and disbursements made by checks and their supporting documentation, totaling approximately $1.5 million. All withdrawals were appropriate and made for the purpose of transferring money between district bank accounts. Additionally, except for immaterial discrepancies, disbursements were properly supported and made for appropriate purposes.
Village officials have established effective procedures that ensure claims are adequately documented and properly supported, for legitimate village purposes and presented and approved by the board before payment.
While village officials have developed a plan for the wastewater treatment facility's bio-digester capital project, it raises many significant questions about the cost effectiveness. Auditors found that these plans were based on revenue estimates that may not be attainable and could result in significant costs to sewer users.
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.