New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the following local government audits have been issued.
Of the 224 granted exemptions reviewed (approximately $6.2 million of assessed value), 136 exemptions (61 percent), (approximately $3.8 million in assessed value) lacked one or more pieces of supporting documentation to verify eligibility and/or were incorrectly granted. One property owner did not meet the eligibility requirements to receive agricultural building exemptions and incorrectly received $15,231 in tax reductions. In addition, agricultural building exemptions that were granted for the construction of two buildings were not supported and they incorrectly received $80,126 in tax reductions. Finally, the assessor did not have any documentation on file for four properties receiving eligible funds exemptions or four additional properties receiving senior citizens exemptions and the owners may have incorrectly received $2,551 in tax reductions.
Department officials generally did not document their efforts to obtain competition for purchases. The Board did not establish policies or procedures for the procurement of goods and services and certain officers did not disclose their interest in contracts.
The board and village officials did not establish adequate internal controls over department cash receipts. The board did not adopt written cash receipt policies, cash receipt duties were not properly segregated and the supervisor did not adequately oversee the cash receipt function. As a result, the attendant had almost complete control over the cash receipts without adequate oversight.
The Board did not establish a formal fund balance policy. Town budgeting practices resulted in an increase in fund balance from $8.6 million in 2013 to $20.9 million 2017. Fund balance is projected to increase to $22.8 million at the end of 2018. The Board appropriated fund balance ranging from $1.2 million to $1.4 million that was not used to finance appropriation during the fiscal years 2013 through 2017.
The city’s proposed budget includes appropriations of $85.7 million and revenue estimates of $40.7 million. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, personal services and employee benefits accounted for 90 percent of revenue. This leaves little to finance operations and maintain infrastructure; yet the city continues to incur debt to finance recurring costs. In addition, the proposed budget includes revenue estimates of $4.5 million in metered water sales and $5.5 million in sewer rents. However, the city council has not yet authorized the budgeted increases in rates that are needed to realize these revenues. The proposed budget also includes appropriations of $1.9 million in termination salary payments, yet expenditures have averaged $2.2 million over the last three years. Furthermore, officials only partially implemented the Comptroller’s recommendations in the May 2018 review of the 2018-19 proposed budget.
Duties in the civil division office have not been adequately segregated. Additionally, although the mechanical signature devices are controlled by the supervisor and locked in the division safe, the supervisor’s signature is automatically printed on the checks without any required prior authorization. In general though, deposits were made in a timely manner based on the number of days between the check date and the deposit dates. All disbursements made during June 2018 agreed with incoming cash receipts and all were for appropriate purposes.
The city’s Executive Budget contains $645.3 million in revenues for the Yonkers City School District. This revenue, however, includes $17.6 million in additional State funding that city officials were unable to provide documentation to support that they will receive it in 2019-20. As a result, the district’s proposed budget is structurally imbalanced. City and district officials should work to address this gap between district revenues and appropriations.
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