New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the following local government audits were issued.
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the city’s 2023-24 proposed budget are reasonable. However, certain revenue and expenditure projections and other matters should be reviewed by the mayor and council. In addition, city officials did not implement all of the recommendations in the previous review letter when preparing the 2023-24 proposed budget. Auditors found that the mayor submitted the 2023-24 proposed budget to the council on April 19, 2023, or 18 days after the charter-established deadline and the proposed budgets for the general and recreation funds are not structurally balanced because they include subsidies from other funds to finance their operations. Also, the proposed budget, as in the three previous years, allocates appropriations for personal services, contractual expenditures and employee benefits between the operating funds using unsupported allocation methods.
Town of Chemung (Chemung) officials did not adequately monitor the Chemung and Town of Ashland (Ashland) Intermunicipal Consolidation Agreement’s highway service labor costs. Officials did not establish procedures to evaluate labor costs by town. For example, timecard information was not used to monitor labor costs for services provided to Ashland and highway employees’ timecards did not always identify their work location needed to allocate costs. As a result, labor costs were not equitable, and Chemung could have incurred approximately $23,000 in additional costs to provide services to Ashland.
The significant revenue and expenditure projections in the 2023-24 proposed budget are reasonable. However, City officials only partially implemented the recommendations provided in the prior year’s budget review letter. In addition, the city’s proposed budget includes a tax levy of $59.9 million, which is $5.5 million above the legal limit and the city council has adopted a local law authorizing an override of the tax levy limit.
The board did not ensure that all cash disbursements were for appropriate company purposes or supported. Of the $3.6 million in disbursements made during the two-year audit period, auditors found disbursements totaling $585,792 were for inappropriate purchases. Examples included: $106,542 in unsupported cash disbursements made to six board members and the chief; $44,820 for domestic flights and lodging in, among other places, Dallas, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, and Nashville; $32,093 for service and maintenance to vehicles the company did not own or could not provide support for; $11,258 for Christmas gifts that included, but were not limited to, gift cards, clothing, drones and video games. The disbursements also included $10,853 for one board member’s Alaskan cruise vacation and the chief’s vacation to a clothing-optional resort in Jamaica with his spouse. Other items included: $7,239 for alcohol; $5,121 for 14-karat gold and diamond rings for the chief and his spouse; $2,728 for optical services; and $1,998 for professional basketball tickets.
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