April 20, 2020

Audits of certain State agencies, municipalities and school districts released by the New York State Comptroller during the week ending April 18, 2020


Click on the text highlighted in color to access the full report.


EO 95, issued in March 2013, established an Open Data Website for the collection and public dissemination of publishable state data maintained by state entities. Auditors found OGS has taken steps to meet the requirements of EO 95; however, certain aspects of the order have not been fully addressed. There is limited assurance OGS has created a complete catalogue of the publishable data that it maintains or accompanying schedules for making that data public. OGS has not incorporated compliance with EO 95 into its core business functions. For instance, there are no processes to identify new high-value data sets to publish on Open Data and OGS has not consistently updated data already posted.

EO 95, issued in March 2013, established an Open Data Website for the collection and public dissemination of publishable state data maintained by covered state entities. Auditors found the department has generally complied with the requirements of EO 95 and continues to identify new data sets to add to Open Data. However, the department did not identify the total population of publishable data that it maintains so there is limited assurance it provided a complete catalogue or accompanying schedules for making the data public, as required. 

An audit issued in November 2018, found that HESC had taken steps to implement the structure necessary to administer the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program. However, auditors identified several areas for improvement. In a follow-up, auditors found HESC made progress in correcting the problems identified in the initial audit report.

A report issued in August 2014 found that a significant number of Low-Income Housing Trust Fund Program projects were being delayed by at least six months due to, among other issues, questionable award decisions, lax monitoring or enforcement of expectations, and delays in key approvals. The initial audit also found that the program did not consistently adhere to its own policies regarding the project award process. In a follow-up, auditors found HCR officials made some progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit. 
Auditors determined that 101 credit card purchases totaling $22,100 did not have original receipts attached to the monthly statement. In July 2019, Richard A. Lobur, a fire department member, admitted to taking almost $40,000 in grant money to use for personal expenses, pay off credit card debt and make loan payments. He pleaded guilty to theft of government money and agreed to pay $39,182.92 in restitution. The matter was referred to the Erie County District Attorney’s Officer and resulted in the arrest of three other individuals. In December 2019, one individual pleaded guilty to petit larceny while the other two pleaded to a non-criminal disposition. All three were ordered to pay restitution.

The board-adopted procurement policy does not provide a clear method for procuring professional services. Auditors found the town procured professional services from 16 providers with payments totaling $870,909 without competitive methods. In addition, the town did not obtain the required number of quotes for 34 purchases totaling $59,426; a proposal for one purchase totaling $13,404 or competitively bid three purchases totaling $911,044.

The town clerk did not deposit or remit all tax collections to the supervisor and county treasurer in a timely manner. In addition, the town clerk did not reconcile her bank account or identify errors such as duplicate tax payments received from taxpayers. Auditors found that the town clerk did not report or remit fees in a timely manner for 2018 and 2019. Auditors also determined that the board approved inappropriate or unsupported credit card charges totaling $5,759.

Real property taxes totaling $1,443,876 and clerk fees totaling $2,604 were not remitted to the supervisor or treasurer in a timely manner. Auditors found 45 real property tax receipts totaling $690,961 were deposited from two to 60 days after receipt instead of within 24 hours. In addition, there were five instances totaling $2,089 where clerk fees were not deposited within three days of when collections accumulated to more than $250.


Cuba-Rushford Central School District – Financial Management (Allegany County and Cattaraugus County)
The district’s financial reserve plan states that the district will reduce surplus fund balance as recommended by Comptroller DiNapoli’s previous report and the board’s fund balance policy states that it will strive to ensure that surplus fund balance does not exceed 4 percent. Surplus fund balance continued to consistently exceed the 4 percent limit by an annual average of 9 percentage points, or approximately $2 million. The board and district officials consistently overestimated appropriations and appropriated fund balance for planned operating deficits that never occurred.
Monticello Central School District – Fund Balance Management (Sullivan County)
The Board overestimated appropriations from 2016-17 through 2018-19, helping result in $12.1 million in appropriated fund balance not being used to finance operations. In addition, the district’s recalculated surplus fund balance exceeded the statutory limit each of the last three fiscal years by 12.3 to 16.3 percentage points. As of June 30, 2019, the District overfunded one reserve by $820,000.
South Colonie Central School District – Allocation of Personnel Costs (Albany County)
District officials accurately allocated personnel costs between district and state grant activities Auditors found total personnel costs of $745,262, of which $358,384 was funded using general fund money, were adequately supported and properly allocated. Except for minor discrepancies, which auditors discussed with district officials, teacher center personnel costs of $434,790 were supported, properly allocated and accurately reported as teacher center costs.

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