New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Afton Hose Company Emergency Squad, Town of Hampton, Town of Hopewell, Pember Library and Museum, City of Rye, Town of Sullivan and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
“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 company’s constitution and bylaws, which dictate the manner in which operations are to be conducted, are insufficient. In addition, monthly bank statements are not properly reviewed and the company treasurer is not required to perform bank reconciliations. Finally, the treasurer’s books are consistently reviewed by a disinterested third party who reported that everything was in good order; however, this review was not an effective audit as it failed to identify weaknesses and discrepancies.
The town justice did not establish adequate internal controls over the court’s financial operations. Specifically, the justice did not perform bank reconciliations, prepare monthly accountabilities, deposit cash receipts in a timely manner, properly account for bail money held by the court or submit the required monthly reports in a timely manner.
The town board did not adopt a policy or develop procedures to govern the level of fund balance to be maintained. Additionally, the board had not developed accurate budget estimates or a formal, comprehensive multiyear financial and capital plan to adequately address the town’s long-term operational and capital needs. As a result, the water fund has retained excessive amounts of unexpended surplus fund balance. Unexpended surplus funds were consistently more than the actual expenditures in each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012.
The board has taken steps to provide oversight of the library/museum’s financial activities. An accounting firm prepares the accounting records, and the executive director provides the board with financial reports. However, the board did not adopt a budget for the fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13, as required by the by-laws.
The city’s boat basin operations are generally operating efficiently. However, the cost allocation of administrative services could be improved. In 2000 and 2001, the city contracted with an outside vendor to analyze and calculate cost allocations for its enterprise funds including the boat basin fund. Although the cost allocation was updated in 2001, it has not been updated since that time.
The town has excessive fund balances in the general–outside village, highway–town-wide and highway–outside village funds; the fire district; and the water and lighting districts that resulted from unrealistic budget estimates. Auditors also found significant weaknesses with how the town clerk handled the $17.1 million of tax and penalty payments. Tax collections were not deposited in the bank or remitted to the town and county in a timely manner. Tax collection money was not properly secured in the clerk’s office and $3,140 went missing from the safe.
Auditors found that sheriff’s department officials have established adequate internal controls over cash receipts. Department officials established a fiscal management policy in February 2012 providing guidance over the collecting, recording, depositing and safeguarding of cash receipts received in the civil office. In addition, various control procedures that department officials had implemented over the cash receipts process in the civil office provided an added level of oversight.
For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit http://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.