New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Youth Recreation Commission, Cayuga County Water and Sewer Authority, Chautauqua Utility District, City of Glen Cove, Town of Minerva, Pine City Fire Department and the Village of Port Chester.
"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 did not maintain adequate accounting records to report the summer recreation program's financial activity. The treasurer also did not prepare and provide monthly trial balances, budget-to-actual reports or a statement of cash balances to the commission board. Additionally, the board did not establish pay rates for program employees.
Four employees are authorized to collect water and sewer payments, but there is only one cash drawer, which limits the ability to identify who made the collections. In addition, one of these employees has incompatible duties including generating bills and preparing and recording deposits. Authority officials also did not reconcile their property information to information from the county or municipalities for billing purposes, which resulted in the incorrect billing of 82 properties.
Although the audit did not indicate any inappropriate banking activity, payments were made without board approval. The board did not provide sufficient oversight over the assistant whose duties were inadequately segregated and there is an increased risk that cash payments or electronic transfers may be made for inappropriate purposes and not detected in a timely manner.
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable and the city's proposed budget complies with the tax levy limit.
Auditors identified a total of $32,179 in questionable and inappropriate payroll payments and unaccounted for cash receipts. In addition, the clerk was paid for 482 hours of leave valued at $8,235 that she had not earned and was not entitled to. The board's failure to establish comprehensive written policies and procedures for processing payroll and maintaining leave time accruals resulted in a lack of segregation of duties and sufficient compensating controls. This allowed the clerk to control all aspects of the payroll process and to overpay herself without detection.
Department officials have not adopted written financial policies or procedures addressing cash receipts, disbursements, claims processing or fundraising accountability. As a result, officials did not provide adequate oversight of the department's financial activities.
The village paid approximately $3 million for overtime wages, with $2.2 million, or 72 percent, paid to the police department. Because the police department's management monitored overtime, auditors were able to determine that over 50 percent of the police department's overtime was due to staff shortages. Based on the overtime hours that resulted from the shortages and the cost of a new officer, the department could hire five new officers without increasing overall costs.
For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 140,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created to promote transparency in government and provide taxpayers with better access to financial data.