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February 28, 2013

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the, Village of Brightwaters, Town of Bovina, Cooperative Information Technology Services, Village of Forestville, Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department, Town of Lindley, Town of Monroe, City of Norwich, Village of Parish and the City of Saratoga Springs.

“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."

Village of Brightwaters – Financial Operations, Conflict of Interest and Information Technology (Suffolk County)
From 2009-10 through 2011-12, the village board underestimated expenditures by a total of more than $416,000 despite historical indications that expenditures consistently exceeded the budget. These budgeting practices created operating deficits that have contributed to ongoing fund balance deficits in the general fund. Further, village officials have not adopted comprehensive IT policies and procedures regarding standards for computer use, remote access, data backup and disaster recovery.

Town of Bovina – Internal Controls Over Cash Receipts and Disbursements (Delaware County)
The town board and town supervisor did not adequately segregate duties related to the collection, recording, and depositing of receipts, the preparation and recording of disbursements, and bank reconciliations. Auditors also found there was no documentation of an annual board audit of the supervisor’s records.

Cooperative Information Technology Services (2012MR-1)
Auditors found shared inter-municipal Information Technology (IT) services has resulted in cost savings for local governments. Schoharie County has reduced the IT costs for software and support for local governments within the county by a projected $87,372 through cooperative services. Inter-municipal cooperation for certain IT services is also occurring in Broome and Tompkins counties.

Village of Forestville – Water Fund (Chautauqua County)
The village board authorized substantial improvements to the village’s water system and obtained funding for the project from the Environmental Facilities Corporation without first identifying a plan to pay for the related debt. The board did not establish policies or procedures for the billing and collection of water charges, and failed to properly segregate the duties of the clerk-treasurer. Further, the clerk-treasurer's records for the water fund were inaccurate and misrepresented the fund's financial condition

Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Livingston County)
The department board does not provide adequate oversight of financial activities. The board does not review any of the bank reconciliations prepared by the department treasurer or annually audit the treasurer’s records. In addition, board members had not adopted financial policies and procedures addressing cash receipts and disbursements, procurement, or claims processing, nor had they adopted a code of ethics or information technology policies.

Town of Lindley – Financial Management (Steuben County)
The town board did not develop and adopt accurate budgets that were based on realistic estimates of revenues and expenditures. Although the board received monthly budget-to-actual reports from the town supervisor, they consistently underestimated revenues and overestimated expenditures. As a result, fund balance that was appropriated as a funding source was not used, taxes were unnecessarily levied, and the town accumulated $309,369 and $399,024 of unrestricted surplus funds in the general and highway funds.

Town of Monroe – Water System Accountability and Electricity Cost Savings (Orange County)
Town officials did not have written procedures for reconciling the water processed by its water system and purchased from the village with the water billed to its customers. The town could not account for 8,376,160 gallons, or about 25 percent of the water processed. Auditors estimated that the town lost $64,787 in water rent revenue from unbilled water if the lost water was due to malfunctioning meters and/or theft. In addition, the town could have saved as much as $4,035 had it contracted with the same energy supply company as the village.

City of Norwich – Information Technology (Chenango County)
The city’s computer servers are not placed in secure locations. In addition, system users were granted administrative privileges that they did not need to perform their job duties. Further, the city council has not adopted a disaster recovery plan. As a result, there is an increased risk that computerized data could be lost or compromised, or that city operations could be seriously disrupted.

Village of Parish – Board Oversight (Oswego County)
The village board did not ensure that all claims were audited prior to payment and did not properly audit claims to ensure they included evidence of receipt and price quotes. As a result, 20 claims totaling $32,326 were paid even though evidence of board approval was not documented in the board minutes, and five claims totaling $6,258 were inappropriately paid in advance of board audit.

City of Saratoga Springs – Financial Condition (Saratoga County)
The city’s unexpended surplus has significantly increased from $165,723 on Dec. 31, 2006 to $6.2 million on Dec. 31, 2011. The 2012 general fund budget of $37.2 million appears on track with city officials not anticipating an operating deficit. Also, while the financial condition of the water and sewer funds improved during the audit period, the water fund balance continues to remain in a deficit.


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