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Comptroller releases municipal audits

ALBANY - State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office completed audits of the Bloomingburg Joint Fire District, Village of Depew, Essex County Probation Department, Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Town of Johnsburg, Town of North Castle, Town of Owego Fire District, Rescue Fire Company, Inc., and the Village of Village of the Branch.

 

Bloomingburg Joint Fire District – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Sullivan County)
The district board did not ensure that disbursements were made for authorized district purposes. The board did not adequately segregate duties or implement sufficient compensating controls. The district treasurer performs all aspects of the cash disbursements process – including preparing the monthly abstracts; printing, signing, and mailing the checks; and preparing the bank reconciliations – without sufficient oversight by the board.

Village of Depew – Internal Controls Over Capital Projects (Erie County)
Auditors found significant problems with the accounting for and reporting of capital project activity as well as the use of certain debt proceeds. The village did not maintain capital project records in a manner that readily provides information about actual resources committed and expenditures incurred throughout the course of each project, which often span two or more fiscal years.

Essex County Probation Department – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (2013M-38)
County and department officials had not established an adequate system of internal controls over the department’s financial operations. As a result, cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner. The department’s failure to establish policies and procedures regarding DWI administrative fees has resulted in an inequitable assessment of fees to probationers and a lack of enforcement of inactive probationers’ delinquent accounts. For example, we found that 89 inactive probationers owe at least $9,710, but as much as $58,260, to the county for unpaid fees.

Essex County Sheriff’s Department – Internal Controls Over Cash Receipts and Disbursements (2013M-35)
Although the department established a money-handling policy in April 2012, cash receipts and disbursements were not processed in accordance with the policy. Auditors found the civil clerk performed virtually all financial duties without sufficient oversight or other mitigating controls. Bail and civil office cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner. Also, the department’s computer system allowed for the ability to modify and delete financial transactions, creating the opportunity for the manipulation and concealment of transactions.

Town of Johnsburg – Management Oversight and Online Banking (Warren County)
The town board did not adequately design, implement, or monitor internal controls over the town’s financial activities. The board did not conduct an annual audit of the records of officials and employees who receive and disburse cash. The town supervisor has not adequately segregated the bookkeeper’s online banking duties. Also, the town has not established a confirmation process with its bank for online transfers of town moneys.

Town of North Castle – Cash Disbursement (Westchester County)
Internal controls over cash disbursement are appropriately designed and operating effectively with the exception of bank reconciliations, which have not been prepared since May 2012. Because the town’s deposits total $26 million, the lack of bank reconciliations creates a risk that errors or fraudulent transactions could occur without detection.

Town of Owego Fire District – Board Oversight (Tioga County)
The district board did not audit and approve claims after the transactions occurred and prior to the treasurer paying those claims. Although the board did ensure that the goods purchased were for district purposes, they could not be sure that the amounts paid were aligned with its previously established expectations. In addition, district officials could not account for more than 50 percent of fuel delivered to two of the three district fire stations.

Rescue Fire Company, Inc. – Unaccounted-For Bar Receipts (Niagara County)
All four bar committee members had unmonitored access to the safe where the cash from bar operations was stored. The board did not require bar committee members to have a second member present while conducting cash counts or adding or removing cash from the safe. Company officials said over the last several years, the bar committee chairman was able to divert cash from the cash register in the bar without their knowledge.

Village of Village of the Branch – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Suffolk County)
The village building inspector did not take an oath of office and, as generally required of a village officer, does not reside within the village. In addition, the village and the inspector have entered into a contract, which provides for an annual fee for basic services of $8,000 plus 50 percent of certain permit fees. During the audit period, the inspector received $84,197, nearly $73,000 of which was based on fees collected for building permits. Because there is no cap on the amount of fees paid to the building inspector, the village cannot know whether the inspector’s compensation is excessive in any given year.

For access to state and local government spending and more than 60,000 state contracts, visit www.openbooknewyork.com/.