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November 21, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Town of Almond, Town of Big Flats, Town of Conesus, Town of Ellenburg, Town of Ellicot, Essex County, Town of Laurens, Town of Lincoln, Town of Minetto, Town of Mount Pleasant, Town of New Baltimore, Rush Fire District, Town of Stanford, Town of Wawarsing and the Village of Woodridge.

“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."

Town of Almond – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Activities (Allegany County)
The town board has not adopted a policy to address the level of unexpended surplus fund balance to be maintained. As a result, the board’s budgeting practices have resulted in the town continuing to maintain excessive unexpended surplus fund balances in all four major operating funds. At the close of the 2012 fiscal year, the unexpended surplus fund balance of the general town-wide fund was 69 percent of budgeted appropriations for 2013, the general town-outside-village fund was 106 percent, the highway town-wide fund was 63 percent, and the highway town-outside-village fund was 85 percent.

Town of Big Flats – Financial Management (Chemung County)
Although the town board received monthly budget-to-actual reports from the supervisor, it did not develop and adopt accurate budgets that were based on realistic estimates of revenues and expenditures. As a result, the town has accumulated excess unrestricted fund balances in the general and water funds. The general fund’s excess unrestricted fund balance is 128 percent of the ensuing year’s budget and the water fund’s excess unrestricted fund balance is 75 percent of the ensuing year’s budget.

Town of Conesus – Justice Court (Livingston County)
Auditors identified deficiencies in oversight of town justice court operations including depositing, recording, reconciling, and reporting. The town justices did not sufficiently segregate the court clerk’s duties or establish adequate procedures for reviewing her work. Additionally, they did not ensure that all money received was deposited and recorded in a timely manner.

Town of Ellenburg – Justice Court and Town Clerk Financial Operations and Wind Power Revenues (Clinton County)
The internal controls in the town justice court were not adequately designed and operating effectively. Auditors found a cash shortage of $1,814 in one of the justice’s accounts. The town clerk did not establish adequate controls over financial activities and the board did not establish effective monitoring controls. Lastly, the town has applied its substantial revenues from wind power to reduce taxes and increase its unassigned fund balance.

Town of Ellicott – Fiscal Stress (Chautauqua County)
The town board did not adopt realistic budgets, did not adequately monitor and adjust the annual budgets, and did not adequately monitor the town’s financial operations to ensure fiscal stability. As a result, the general town-wide and highway part-town funds have had operating deficits during the last three fiscal years because the board over-appropriated fund balance and over-estimated revenues.

Essex County – Financial Condition and Internal Controls Over Payroll (2013M-177)
The board adopted budgets for the general fund that were not structurally balanced. Instead, the board routinely relied on appropriating significant amounts of fund balance to finance operations. Also, the county’s enterprise health fund and enterprise refuse and garbage fund were not self-sufficient and, therefore, required subsidies from the general fund through both interfund transfers and advances. The board has adopted budgets for the general fund, enterprise health fund, and enterprise refuse and garbage funds for 2013 using the same budgeting practices.

Town of Laurens – Budgeting Practices (Otsego County)
From 2008 through 2012, the town received an extra $1.7 million in unbudgeted revenues, of which, $1.3 million is related to flood revenues. During this period, the board budgeted $6.2 million in expenditures but actually spent $6.8 million, resulting in excess spending of $630,000.

Town of Lincoln – Financial Management (Madison County)
As of Dec. 31, 2012, the town accumulated unexpended surplus funds in the general fund totaling $458,698, which were excessive compared to the 2013 budget of $255,420. This primarily occurred because the board underestimated budget revenues in previous years and did not adopt a policy to govern the level of fund balance to be maintained. The board also did not develop a long-term financial plan to ensure unexpended surplus funds will be used to benefit taxpayers.

Town of Minetto – Financial Condition (Oswego County)
The town board adopted budgets that relied too heavily on appropriated fund balance as a financing source. As a result, the financial condition of the general, highway, and lighting district funds has diminished in recent years, resulting in fiscal stress. In addition, the board does not receive monthly budget status reports or cash balances to monitor the town’s financial condition, and did not develop a multiyear financial and capital plan to address the town’s long-term priorities.

Town of Mount Pleasant – Financial Condition (Westchester County)
The town board did not adopt a policy or ensure that procedures were in place to govern the level of fund balance to be maintained. As a result, the town’s general town wide fund balance has decreased by more than $2 million over the past five years, primarily due to the board relying on fund balance as a primary financing source. Furthermore, the board’s estimates of unexpended surplus fund balance to be appropriated in the budgets exceeded the amounts actually available.

Town of New Baltimore – Procurement Practices (Greene County)
The town board did not ensure that town officials followed statutory bidding requirements or the town’s procurement policy. Auditors identified more than $300,000 in purchases that were not properly bid as required by law, and nearly $94,000 in purchases that did not have quotes as required by town policy. Additionally, town officials stated that items were purchased through state or county contracts but did not confirm that they received the appropriate contract pricing.

Rush Fire District – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Monroe County)
Auditors found that district officials made 26 credit card purchases totaling $1,609 that did not include all the supporting documentation required by the district’s credit card policy. Additionally, 19 credit card purchases totaling $11,635 circumvented the district’s procurement policy. Also, the district credit card policy does not require bonding insurance for all individuals who are issued district credit cards.

Town of Stanford – Financial Condition (Dutchess County)
The town’s budgets from fiscal years 2009 through 2012 were unrealistic. Total actual revenues during this period were nearly $1.3 million more than budgeted, and total expenditures during the same period were more than $300,000 less than appropriations. As a result, the town’s unexpended surplus fund balance increased significantly. The town has not developed a multiyear plan for the use of fund balance.

Town of Wawarsing – Payroll and Leave Accruals (Ulster County)
The town board did not develop hiring policies and payroll procedures for managing the town’s payroll process. Sixty employees began work and were paid $28,210 between February and June 2012 prior to the board’s approval of their employment and pay rates. In addition, town highway employees were overpaid $1,861 due to incorrect pay rates, received $1,413 for time not worked, and one employee earned leave accruals to which she was not entitled.

Village of Woodridge – Financial Condition (Sullivan County)
The village is in better financial condition than it was during a previous audit conducted in 2011; this is partially attributed to the budgets adopted by the board and a number of cost saving measures. Auditors found the board could make additional improvements in budget preparation and in monitoring and controlling the budget throughout the year.



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