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Town of Amherst Industrial Development Agency – Project Approval and Monitoring (Erie County) The board did not properly approve and monitor projects. Auditors determined the board did not ensure its project approvals were based on project applications that were completed and supported with applicable supplemental documentation and an adequate cost-benefit analysis. The board and officials also did not properly monitor to ensure the annual report filed with the New York State Authorities Budget Office and the Office of the State Comptroller was accurate with respect to job performance, sales tax exemptions and payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) information for current and active projects.
Town of Berne – Board Oversight (Albany County) The board did not provide adequate oversight of financial operations and exceeded its authority under New York State Town law by authorizing the supervisor to pay all expenditures without prior audit. The board did not request or receive adequate monthly reports from the supervisor. For example, the board did not request or receive monthly cash reports detailing money received and disbursed, monthly bank reconciliations or cash balances for each fund. The board also did not ensure bank reconciliations were accurate, timely, and properly reviewed.
Town of Boylston – Financial Condition (Oswego County) The board did not effectively manage the town’s financial condition. As a result, it levied more taxes than necessary to sustain operations. The board also did not adopt realistic budgets and failed to monitor budgetary results during the year. In addition, the board allowed excessive levels of surplus funds to increase. As of December 31, 2020, the general fund’s surplus funds were $134,448, or 89% of actual expenditures. In addition, the highway fund’s surplus funds were $386,162, or 84% of actual expenditures. The board diminished financial transparency by annually appropriating fund balance that was not needed to fund operations.
Town of Clarence Industrial Development Agency (CIDA) – Project Approval and Monitoring (Erie County) The board did not properly approve or monitor its projects. The board also did not verify job creation goals or other criteria while assessing material aspects of the proposed projects prior to approving them. The board did not properly monitor projects to determine whether project goals were being met. Officials did not ensure that project approvals were transparent to the public by posting required documents on CIDA’s website. In addition, the board and officials did not ensure that CIDA’s annual report was accurate before submitting it to state oversight agencies.
Village of Clayton – Claims Auditing (Jefferson County) The board did not properly audit claims prior to payment or ensure written quotes were obtained as required. The board reviewed listings of claims but generally did not review them before approving payments. Health insurance claims totaling $495,104 were not approved for payment by the board, and claims totaling $52,000 to the local Chamber of Commerce did not include receipts as required. Of the purchases totaling $239,411 from 34 vendors auditors examined, village officials purchased goods and services totaling $141,269 from 27 vendors without obtaining written quotes or retaining supporting documentation of their solicitation efforts or justifications for not seeking competition, as required. The village’s procurement policy did not comply with New York State General Municipal Law.
City of Cortland – Non-Contractual (NC) Employees’ Payroll Benefits (Cortland County) Two OSC audits issued in 2010 found NC employees received benefits inconsistent with Council approvals. Most of the prior control weaknesses remain and the council still has not established specific leave benefits of NC employees. As a result, auditors found seven NC employees earned 2,213 more hours of leave than employees in the collective bargaining agreements, valued at $110,500. Four NC employees were paid for 265 more hours of unused vacation leave than limits established for employees in the collective bargaining agreements, valued at $13,700. The mayor did not require department heads to track their time worked or to submit leave requests for taking time off, and the council did not approve all leave drawdown payments.
Town of Hempstead – Compensatory Time (Nassau County)Town officials did not ensure comp time hours were accurately accrued and accounted for. As a result, officials do not have adequate assurance that all comp time is appropriately earned, accurately recorded and properly monitored. Town officials did not establish a policy or written procedures to ensure that comp time hours were authorized, documented and accounted for. Town officials also did not require comp time to be properly supported and approved by direct supervisors. In addition, town officials did not ensure separation payments that included a payment for unused comp time were supported.
Town of Hempstead Local Development Corporation (THLDC) – Project Approval and Oversight (Nassau County) While the board properly approved and monitored projects in accordance with standard project procedures, it did not set clear and specific goals when approving projects. The board issued a total of $96.6 million of tax-exempt bonds and $1.8 million of taxable bonds during the audit period. However, THLDC officials cannot determine whether projects are meeting the intended purpose because the goals of the projects are not clearly defined in the authorizing resolutions.
Livonia Joint Fire District – Fire Truck Funding and Purchase (Livingston County) The board was not transparent when funding and purchasing fire apparatus. The board levied more taxes than necessary to finance annual operations and its actions hindered taxpayers’ ability to make informed decisions. The board also overestimated appropriations to accumulate more than $1.1 million in fund balance to purchase a fire truck costing more than $727,000, instead of establishing a capital reserve.
In addition, the board did not adopt fund balance, reserve or budgeting policies, along with multiyear financial and capital plans.
Town of Randolph – Justice Court Operations (Cattaraugus County) The justice accurately recorded, deposited, disbursed and reported fines and fees in a timely manner. However, the justice did not ensure computerized case records were updated in an accurate and timely manner or that all closed cases were properly reported to appropriate state agencies.
SCHOOL DISTRICT AUDITS
Granville Central School District – Medicaid Reimbursements (Washington County) The district did not maximize Medicaid reimbursements by claiming for all eligible Medicaid services provided. The district also lacked adequate procedures to ensure Medicaid claims were submitted and reimbursed. Claims were not submitted for 465 eligible services totaling $18,022. Had these services been claimed, the district would have realized revenues totaling $9,011, from 50% reimbursement of eligible costs.
Mineola Union Free School District – Financial Condition Management (Nassau County) The board and district officials did not effectively manage the district’s financial condition. As a result, more taxes were levied than were needed to fund operations. A pattern of over budgeting developed because the board did not adjust ensuing years’ budgets based on prior years’ actual results. Therefore, general fund appropriations were consistently overestimated from 2016-17 through 2019-20 by a total of $20.7 million. Over the four-year audit period, the board consistently appropriated fund balance totaling $12.9 million that was not needed.
Penn Yan Central School District – Network Access Controls (Ontario County, Steuben County and Yates County) District officials did not ensure that the district’s 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 1,094 unneeded user accounts and six user accounts with unnecessary administrator permissions. District officials also did not enter into a service level agreement with the district’s information technology (IT) service provider to clearly identify the provider’s responsibilities and services to be provided. In addition, sensitive IT control weaknesses were communicated confidentially to officials.
St. Regis Falls Central School District – Medicaid Reimbursements (Franklin County and St. Lawrence County) The district did not maximize Medicaid reimbursements by submitting claims for all eligible Medicaid services provided. The district also lacked adequate procedures to ensure Medicaid claims were submitted and reimbursed. Claims were not submitted for 381 eligible services totaling $23,060. Had these services been claimed, the district would have realized revenues totaling $11,530 or 50% of the reimbursement.
Former Village of Chatham Clerk-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Village
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, and the New York State Police announced that Barbara Henry, the Village of Chatham’s former clerk-treasurer, has pleaded guilty to attempted official misconduct for unlawfully waiving her own health insurance premiums at the town’s expense.
“Ms. Henry took advantage of her public position to have the taxpayers fully fund her insurance costs,” said DiNapoli. “This kind of corruption drives up costs and erodes the public trust. Those who abuse the system will be caught and brought to justice. I thank District Attorney Paul Czajka and the New York State Police for their partnership in safeguarding public funds.”
“On behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Chatham and Columbia County, I thank Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Chief Joseph Fiore and their team of investigators and auditors, as well as Sr. Inv. Eric Barnes and his State Police investigators,” DA Czajka said. “In particular, I commend Comptroller’s Investigator Candace Burnham, State Police Investigator Mathew Reilly and Deputy Chief ADA Ryan Carty for their hard work and dedication in this complex investigation. I strongly believe that, if there is one arm of state government that pays for itself by discovering financial misdeeds and deterring thefts, it is this investigative unit of the Comptroller’s office. I also note that Mayor John Howe, although not in office while the crimes were committed, took the lead in ensuring that all village employees cooperated fully.”
Henry, 59, of Chatham paid $3,586 in restitution for scamming the village health insurance premiums and stealing from her other employer Cadmus Lifesharing Association, a nonprofit organization based out of Massachusetts.
The joint investigation found that from April 2017 to August 2018, Henry used her position to unlawfully waive her own health insurance premiums, causing the village to pay Henry’s portion of health insurance. Henry was responsible for paying 50% of her health insurance while the village was responsible for the other 50%. Henry used her position to waive the cost to herself. She was employed by the village from late 2012 until she resigned in August of 2018.
Henry pleaded guilty before Judge J. Borgia-Forster in Chatham Town Court who also imposed a $250 fine in addition to the full restitution.
This is the second criminal conviction of a village official stemming from the joint investigation. In the first, and separate case, former Police Chief Peter Volkmann was sentenced on July 19, 2021 to pay nearly $93,000 in restitution after his felony guilty plea to grand larceny in the fourth degree.