New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the following municipal audits have been issued.
Local governments and school districts did not always evaluate procurement options or make comparisons to benchmark rates to ensure they received the lowest prices for electricity and natural gas. Five of seven entities reviewed (city of Albany; counties of Broome, Cortland and Oneida; and North Syracuse Central School District) spent approximately $2.4 million more for electricity than the benchmark rate used by auditors.
The board established adequate controls to help safeguard assets, and the legally required procurement policy, investment policy and code of ethics were in place. The treasurer’s financial records and reports accurately and properly accounted for all financial activities. Although the board did not perform a formal annual audit of the treasurer’s records, it reviewed reports each month and performed a thorough audit of claims before they were paid to ensure they were supported and funds were used for legitimate expenditures.
Controls over payroll and time records were adequate to ensure the accuracy of payroll and time records. While the town has a good system in place, it could be further improved by filing approved time sheets electronically instead of printing them out only to have paper copies on file in order to save the time and expense of printing.
The assessor granted a total of 633 non-New York State School Tax Relief Program property tax exemptions for non-municipal owned property on the 2017 assessment roll, collectively reducing the town’s 2018 taxable assessed value by more than $34 million. The assessor granted exemptions without applications, renewal forms or supporting documentation and did not correctly calculate granted exemptions.
The assessor granted 306 non-NYS School Tax Relief Program exemptions on non-municipal owned property on the 2017 assessment roll, which collectively reduced the town’s 2018 taxable assessed value by more than $12 million. Auditors reviewed 85 exemptions totaling $9.3 million and identified issues with 68 exemptions totaling $6.9 million (74 percent). The files related to the 85 granted exemptions and found that 68 exemptions (80 percent) totaling $6.9 million in town-exempt assessed value lacked one or more required supporting documents to determine eligibility or verify the accuracy of the exemption calculation
The board did not adopt a fund balance and reserve policy or create comprehensive multiyear financial and capital plans. From Dec. 31, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2017, general fund unrestricted fund balance increased by $106,230 (110 percent). Over the same three-year period, highway fund unrestricted fund balance increased by $50,007 (24 percent).
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