New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the following local government audits were issued during the week ending July 2, 2021
Town of Albion – Financial Management (2021M-29) (Orleans County) The board generally developed realistic budgets. However, the budgets were not structurally balanced. The board used fund balance to finance operations. This resulted in the four main operating funds’ combined unrestricted fund balance to decline 65% from $1,165,418 as of Jan. 1, 2018 to $403,003 as of Dec. 31, 2020.If the board continues to use fund balance at the current levels, it could deplete fund balance in the general town-wide fund by the end of 2024. The board also did not adopt a written multiyear financial plan and written fund balance policy, which limits transparency.
City of Little Falls – Financial Condition (Herkimer County) The council and city officials did not adopt structurally balanced budgets, properly monitor the city’s financial operations or take appropriate actions to maintain the city’s fiscal stability. As a result, the city has significant fiscal stress. Auditors found the former treasurer over-reported fund balance from 2017 through 2019 by more than $200,000, and the council did not receive sufficient financial reports to monitor city finances. In addition, general fund balance declined by 52% to about $244,000 at the end of 2019, and officials had to rely on loans for cash flow. Errors in the 2020 accounting records also make it difficult for officials to accurately assess the city’s current financial condition. Auditors also found officials have not adopted a fund balance policy, multiyear financial plan or capital plan.
Town of Pulteney – Financial Condition (Steuben County)The board did not effectively manage the town’s financial condition and was unaware of the town’s true financial position when it adopted budgets because it did not receive accurate financial information from the town supervisor. Auditors found the board failed to implement Comptroller DiNapoli’s prior 2013 audit recommendation to appropriate fund balance only in amounts that are actually available, after retaining a reasonable amount for the next year. The board also appropriated more fund balance to finance operations than was available, resulting in the general and highway funds and water district beginning 2020 with budgetary deficits. The board did not adopt realistic budgets for each fund from 2017 through 2020. In addition, the board also did not adopt a multiyear financial plan, capital plan or fund balance, reserve or budgeting policies.
Town of Pulteney – Information Technology (Steuben County) Town officials did not adequately safeguard town information technology (IT) assets and failed to implement the recommendations Comptroller DiNapoli made in 2013 to adopt comprehensive IT security policies and monitor computer use. As a result, auditors found officials did not adopt key IT policies or a comprehensive IT contingency plan to minimize the risk of data loss or suffering a serious interruption of services. Officials did not monitor the use of IT resources or provide IT security awareness training. Officials also did not disable four unneeded local user accounts. In addition, officials did not enter into a service level agreement with the town’s IT service providers. Sensitive IT control weaknesses were communicated confidentially to officials.
SCHOOL DISTRICT AUDITS
Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District – Network Access (Ontario County and Wayne County) District officials did not ensure that their network access controls were secure. Officials did not regularly review network user accounts and permissions to determine whether they were appropriate or needed to be disabled. As a result, auditors identified 139 unneeded user accounts, 36 unneeded generic or shared user accounts and five user accounts with unnecessary administrator permissions. Officials also did not maintain hardware or software inventory records. In addition, sensitive information technology control weaknesses were communicated confidentially to officials.
Tupper Lake Central School District – Records and Reports (Franklin County and St. Lawrence County)District officials did not maintain complete, accurate and timely accounting records and reports to allow officials to effectively manage financial operations and capital projects. Board oversight was lacking. Officials did not provide support for 12 of the 15 balance sheet accounts auditors reviewed. Also, officials did not record journal entries in a timely manner. Only four of the 349 journal entries for 2018-19 and only 60 of the 292 journal entries for 2019-20 were recorded during each year. Officials also did not properly account for and close completed capital projects. As a result, $359,427 in unexpended funds were not used to pay related debt, which could have reduced the district’s tax levies, and $480,853 in project expenditures were not submitted for timely reimbursement. In addition, officials did not submit the 2016-17 through 2019-20 annual financial reports, state aid claim forms and independent audit reports in a timely manner, delaying scheduled state aid payments ranging from $49,607 to $345,221.