New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Village of Ballston Spa, Town of Schroon, St. Paul Boulevard Fire Association and the St. Paul Boulevard Fire 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."
The treasurer did not maintain accurate accounting records and failed to file required annual financial reports for the last four fiscal years. As a result, the board did not adequately monitor the village’s financial condition. The general fund’s unrestricted fund balance decreased from $213,327 as of fiscal year-end 2014 to $30,487 as of fiscal-year end 2018. While budget-to-actual results were generally reasonable, deficits occurred in two fiscal years because revenues were overestimated.
The board never prepared an itemized budget for the town hall expansion project outlining the financing sources needed to fund the estimated cost. This also contributed to budget status reports for the project not being presented to the board during the audit period. As a result, the board could not effectively monitor the project, ensure financing sources were sufficient to fund expenditures incurred or ensure expenditures did not exceed the estimated cost. In addition, accounting records for the project were not maintained throughout the fiscal year.
The board did not ensure that the bylaws were adequate and did not adopt supplemental financial policies or procedures. In addition, they did not audit claims prior to payment and ensure there was sufficient supporting documentation for all claims. Lastly, the association did not follow its conflict of interest policy when entering into transactions to purchase new insurance policies.
The board did not adopt realistic budgets, which resulted in excessive unrestricted fund balance that was not substantiated by planned uses in any fund balance policy or multiyear financial or capital plans. These variances were the result of conservatively estimating expenditures while not budgeting for all expected revenues. The board also did not adopt any information technology policies. Finally, the board did not perform an adequate claims audit and seek competition for professional services.
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