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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Allegany County – Court and Trust (2014M-74)


Released: April 4, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether County officials have established appropriate controls to safeguard and account for court and trust funds for the period January 1, 2010 through January 1, 2014.

Background

Pursuant to a court order, certain assets may be provided to the court and then delivered to the County Treasurer (Treasurer). Payments made pursuant to court orders commonly involve surplus moneys from foreclosures and contract disputes resulting in a mechanic’s lien (when the whereabouts of any person entitled to an estate payment is unknown).

Key Findings

  • Although the County Clerk maintains scanned copies of all court orders filed in his office, he does not make an entry into the court and trust fund register of the moneys ordered to be paid into a court.
  • We identified funds which improperly remained in the Treasurer’s custody and should have been turned over to the State Comptroller as abandoned property.
  • In accordance with the Civil Practice Law and Rules, the Treasurer is generally entitled to a fee of 2 percent on moneys she pays out of a court. However, we found that the Treasurer had been charging a fee of 3 percent when disbursing court funds.

Key Recommendations

  • Maintain a court and trust fund register as required by law.
  • Ensure that all moneys deemed abandoned property are paid to the State Comptroller in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that all fees retained are within statutory limits and should consult with the County Attorney regarding any prior fees that were retained.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236