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Comptroller releases municipal audits

ALBANY - State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office completed audits of the Town of Oyster Bay, the City of Lockport, the Colesville Fire District #1, the Town of Afton, the Town of Bridgewater and the Village of Webster.

 

Town of Oyster Bay – Financial Condition and Selected Financial Operations (Nassau County)  
The town is experiencing fiscal stress due to a deteriorating financial condition. The general fund’s total unreserved fund balance has declined by $25 million, from $14.7 million at the end of fiscal year 2007 to a fund deficit of $10.3 million at the end of 2012. Auditors found that the town does not have a formal change order policy that establishes procedures to be followed when change orders are necessary. Finally, the board has not adopted IT policies and procedures regarding remote access, data backup, breach notification and disaster recovery.

City of Lockport – Fiscal Stress (Niagara County)
Auditors estimate that the city will realize operating deficits in the general fund ($1.5 million), water fund ($275,000), sewer fund ($370,000) and refuse fund ($212,000) for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, totaling $2,357,000. These operating deficits occurred because city officials did not include realistic estimates in the 2013 adopted budget. In addition, the city’s Dec. 31, 2012 financial position was misstated in its financial statements, which provided city officials with an inaccurate representation of the City’s financial condition.

Colesville Fire District #1 – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Broome County)
The district does not have adequate financial policies and procedures. While the board has adopted a purchasing policy and a code of ethics, it has not adopted an investment policy. The board also has not ensured that written procedures concerning financial recording and reporting were followed. In addition, the treasurer does not reconcile the bank accounts on a monthly basis.

Town of Afton – Budgeting Practices (Chenango County)
The board adopted budgets that did not accurately estimate the town’s operational needs. Specifically, auditors found that large capital purchases and improvements during the last five completed fiscal years were not budgeted for and the associated means of financing were not considered, including the purchase of $262,000 of equipment and $503,333 spent on capital improvements to town facilities. Additionally, $590,000 was spent in the current fiscal year on the highway garage that the board also did not budget for. Poor budgeting practices led to operating deficits in certain years for the various funds.

Town of Bridgewater – Financial Operations (Oneida County)
The supervisor has assigned accounting duties to the bookkeeper, but has not provided sufficient oversight. As a result, the manual and computerized accounting records maintained by the bookkeeper included inaccuracies such as the improper allocation of real property and sales taxes among tax bases. In addition, separate general ledger cash accounts were not maintained for funds in which cash was commingled and the board was not provided with monthly budget-to-actual reports. The bookkeeper also has not filed annual financial reports timely since 2008, the late filings ranged from 10 days for 2008 to 59 days for 2011. As of August 2013, the bookkeeper had not filed the annual financial report for 2012. Although the Board has audited the Supervisor’s records annually, it has not done so effectively, and the Supervisor has allowed the bookkeeper to sign Town checks in the bookkeeper’s own name. As a result, it is difficult for the Board to determine the financial condition of the Town’s operating funds.

Village of Webster – Audit Follow-Up (Monroe County)
It appears the village continued to make significant progress implementing corrective action. Of the eight audit recommendations made in a prior audit, seven recommendations were implemented, and one recommendation was partially implemented.