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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

State Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

March 21, 2017

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Ballston Lake Fire District, Town of Barker, Town of Genesee, Town of Hempstead Sanitary District No. 2, Town of Horicon, Town of Kirkwood, Lyon Mountain Fire District, Manorville Fire District, Town of Mentz, City of Olean and the Town of Thurman.

"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."

Ballston Lake Fire District – Length of Service Awards Program Service Credit (Saratoga County)

The district did not award the Length of Service Awards Program points in accordance with their policy. As a result, in 2015 three firefighters received one year of service credit and a defined contribution of $700 each to which they were not entitled. There were also discrepancies in the points awarded to all 30 firefighters that were reviewed. However, these inaccuracies did not affect the service credit awarded to the remaining 27 participants.

Town of Barker – Justice Court Operations (Broome County)

The justice should improve controls to ensure court money is adequately safeguarded. Because the court uses electronic case files in lieu of paper files, the original tickets issued by police officers, correspondence and supporting documentation are scanned into the electronic case files. Both the justice and the clerk have the ability to modify or delete comments without the original data being documented in the case file.

Town of Genesee – Disbursements (Allegany County)

Disbursements were properly accounted for, audited and/or certified, where required, and were for legitimate town expenditures. However, the town clerk and the firm's accountant are able to make disbursements without the supervisor's knowledge. Auditors examined disbursements and wire transfers totaling approximately $617,000 and found that the supervisor did not control the custody of his signature stamp and allowed the clerk to affix his signature to checks.

Town of Hempstead Sanitary District No. 2 – Financial Condition and Procurement (Nassau County)

The board did not adopt a policy to address the level of unrestricted fund balance to be maintained or a multi-year financial plan. In addition, the board adopted budgets that appropriated $1.6 million of unrestricted fund balance between 2013 and 2015. However, the appropriated fund balance was not used resulting in a total of $1.65 million of operating surpluses. The district had unrestricted fund balances that ranged from 78 to 85 percent of the ensuing year's budgets over the past three years.

Town of Horicon – Leave Accruals (Warren County)

The town did not accurately maintain employees' leave accrual records. Multiple employees were responsible for manually accounting for employees' leave accruals with no oversight. As a result, the bookkeeper could not know whether employees had sufficient leave time available prior to being paid for it. Additionally, town officials were not aware that the leave accrual records maintained by the landfill supervisor for himself were inadequate.

Town of Kirkwood – Justice Court Operations (Broome County)

Both justices ensured that fines and surcharges collected were accurately reported to the Justice Court Fund and the correct amount was turned over to the supervisor each month. However, neither of the justices ensured that monthly accountabilities were accurately completed because they did not ensure that all bank accounts were reconciled each month.

Lyon Mountain Fire District – Cash Disbursements (Clinton County)

The board could improve the audit process to ensure all claims are audited before payment, when required. The board approved the treasurer's use of a debit card to purchase office supplies and postage. The use of a debit card is not permitted by law and severely weakens controls over district officials' ability to monitor and secure district cash.

Manorville Fire District – Board Oversight and Fuel (Suffolk County)

The board has not established adequate written policies and procedures governing cash receipts and disbursements, nor has it adequately segregated the secretary-treasurer's duties. Furthermore, the board has been giving the district's four employees a Christmas bonus in addition to their fixed salary. These bonuses, which constitute an unauthorized gift of public moneys, totaled $800 for 2015. In addition, district officials did not maintain complete and accurate fuel inventory records or adequately monitor gasoline credit card purchases.

Town of Mentz – Board Oversight (Cayuga County)

The board has not adopted a comprehensive multiyear financial and capital plan or a fund balance policy. Furthermore, the board has adopted budgets that overestimated expenditures for the town-outside-village (TOV) highway fund. As a result, the town-wide general and TOV highway fund balances at the end of 2015 were $409,000 and $267,000 or 133 percent and 68 percent of 2016 appropriations, respectively.

City of Olean – Budget Review (Cattaraugus County)

Certain sources of revenue and expenditure categories in the preliminary budget are not reasonable and, at current rates, could potentially contribute to a depletion of the general fund balance within three to five years. Further, the city has not completely implemented recommendations contained in prior budget review letters issued between March 2009 and March 2016.

Town of Thurman – Capital Projects (Warren County)

The board did not provide adequate oversight and management of the capital projects because it did not adopt appropriate financial plans, monitor project expenditures against estimated costs, approve project change orders (additional modifications in construction or scope of work) or authorize additional funding to address cost increases. Further, the board did not establish a plan to adequately fund both projects until aid or permanent financing was received, resulting in the general fund cash balance declining by more than $390,000 over the last three fiscal years.

For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 130,000 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.