New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Bolton Fire District, Town of Deer Park, East Bloomfield Fire District, East Bloomfield-Holcomb Fire Department, City of Newburgh, Rockland County, Village of South Corning and the Village of Wurtsboro.
"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."
District officials did not establish effective procedures that ensured credit card claims were properly supported and for appropriate purposes. Auditors tested all 22 credit card claims totaling $17,692 consisting of 38 purchases made during the audit period and found five purchases totaling $3,519 that did not have sufficient supporting documentation.
Auditors found that revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The town's general fund balance has continued to increase for the past five years, from $898,669 to $1,459,107 (62 percent). This is a result of overestimating expenditures and underestimating revenues. The town's preliminary budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
The board could improve its oversight of the district's financial operations by updating policies and procedures and then monitoring financial activities more closely. The board should establish a credit card policy that specifies authorized users, credit limits, types of purchases allowed, any required prior approval and documentation required to support each purchase. The district has not established written information technology policies or procedures for granting user access rights and has not developed formal back-up procedures or adopted an information breach notification policy.
Auditors found the financial provisions in the bylaws confusing and contradictory. For example, one section states that all purchases must be approved by an elected department officer, then says approval is required for purchases over $25. Other sections set different approvers and differing amounts. Additionally, department officials did not follow the purchasing requirements outlined in the bylaws.
The city's significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The city faces potential increased salary costs when one of its expired collective bargaining agreements is settled. The city continues to budget minimal amounts for contingencies, which provides limited flexibility to address revenue shortfalls or unforeseen expenditures. The city's proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
Auditors found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The county's proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
The clerk-treasurer did not accurately and completely account for, record and report all financial transactions in a timely manner. Consequently, the board was unaware of the village's true financial position and adopted unrealistic budgets. The lack of accurate accounting records also increases the risk of loss or unauthorized use of village funds.
The board relied on fund balance as a financing source rather than using recurring revenue to finance recurring expenditures. The general fund borrowed an average of $95,300 from the water fund to maintain operations in the last three years. The mayor and board did not segregate the clerk-treasurer's duties over billing, cash receipts and disbursements.
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.