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July 11, 2013

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Cattaraugus County, the Lansing Fire District, the Town of Fremont and the Middle Island Fire District.

“My office's audits of local governments improve their financial management practices," DiNapoli said. "These audits are tools for local officials to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide the best possible service these taxpayer dollars can deliver."

Cattaraugus County – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Activities (Cattaraugus County)
County officials have not established policies and procedures to monitor the Microenterprise Development Loan Fund (MDLF) Program. Although the County’s contract with the Business Development Corporation (BDC) requires quarterly and annual reporting, BDC provided untimely and insufficiently detailed activity reports. For the Children with Special Needs program, auditors found that client files were not always available or complete. Auditors also reviewed 16 transportation claims totaling $100,566 and found exceptions with five claims totaling $85,654. The Legislature has not established policies and procedures relating to the security of data and assets, including user access, a formal disaster recovery plan, and IT security awareness training for users of the county network.

Lansing Fire District - Financial Condition (Tompkins County)
The district’s budgets from fiscal years 2008 through 2012 were unrealistic. Total expenditures during this period were approximately $777,000 less than appropriations. These unrealistic budgets caused total fund balance to increase significantly. At the end of 2012, total fund balance was nearly double the ensuing year’s appropriations, and total fund balance is projected to remain above 100 percent of the subsequent year’s appropriations through 2031. The district continues to raise taxes unnecessarily even though it has excessive fund balance.

Town of Fremont – Operating Budget and Cash Disbursements (Sullivan County)
The board did not develop accurate budget estimates for the general fund and did not properly monitor and control actual activity against those estimates. The board has over-estimated revenues for the years 2008 through 2012 by an aggregate of more than $126,000, which is more than a 12 percent average shortfall. As a result, at the end of 2012 the town had a fund balance deficit of $3,586. Additionally, town officials cannot ensure that cash disbursements are only made for proper town purposes. While the board reviewed all claims that were presented to it for audit, it approved claims totaling $6,183 that did not describe the goods purchased clearly or at all. Because town officials have not established controls over fuel inventories, no one can be sure that fuel purchased is used only for town vehicles and equipment.

Middle Island Fire District - Budgeting Practices (Suffolk County)
During the four-year period 2009 through 2012, the board did not prepare district budgets in the format prescribed by OSC or prepare budgets based on reasonable estimates. Due to the continual overestimating of expenditures, the district generated operating surpluses totaling $2,520,795 from 2009 through 2012. The district also did not calculate its statutory spending limits correctly for 2009 through 2013, resulting in budgeted appropriations that exceeded the statutory limit in 2010, 2012, and 2013. The board did not receive complete and accurate financial information from the treasurer and therefore did not always have the necessary information to effectively monitor the district’s budget.

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For access to state and local government spending and more than 60,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

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