November 16, 2012
DiNapoli: Improvements Needed At Saratoga Housing Authority
"Taxpayers and tenants of the Housing Authority shouldn't have to question if their money is being used appropriately," said DiNapoli. "Officials should immediately address the financial risks uncovered in this audit and commit to improving the tone at the top as they move forward."
After public allegations were made surrounding potential financial irregularities and spending practices on salaries, travel and business expenses, DiNapoli's office was asked by the mayor of Saratoga Springs to conduct an audit.
Auditors found the SHA board did not compensate its executive director - whose 2011-12 salary was $144,921 - in accordance with its personnel policy. By comparison, the salaries of housing authority directors in Plattsburgh, Troy, Schenectady and Albany ranged from $96,000 to $139,000.
Further, the authority lacked appropriate internal controls for conference attendance and the process of approving travel claims prior to payment. These lax controls resulted in the payment of nearly $12,000 in questionable travel costs on out-of-state trips.
DiNapoli's report also noted the authority failed to assess the extent of a widespread bed bug infestation in one of its apartment complexes. Auditors found the authority was alerted to the bed bug problem at Stonequist Apartments in September 2011, but did not engage the services of a professional exterminator until February 2012.
Additional audit findings include:
DiNapoli made a number of recommendations in the audit, including:
Authority officials generally agreed with DiNapoli's recommendations and indicated they planned to take corrective action. Their response has been included in the final audit report.
For a full copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/publicauth/2012/saratogaspringshousing.pdf