Schoharie County

Audit of Sharon Springs shows clerk gave herself a raise

The village of Sharon Springs is drafting a corrective action plan in response to a state audit that

The village of Sharon Springs is drafting a corrective action plan in response to a state audit that revealed the former village clerk gave herself health insurance and a $4 per-hour pay raise without any other village official knowing about it.

The state Comptroller’s Office, in audit results released Friday, said the village government lacked sufficient oversight of the work of the village clerk/treasurer, who was able to submit an application for village health and dental insurance that she was ineligible for.

The village Board of Trustees did not segregate any duties and left the clerk/treasurer responsible for receiving and spending all village money, making bank deposits, preparing sewer and water bills, and submitting vouchers and payroll for the village, which has about 550 residents and a budget of $678,000.

According to the audit, the clerk/treasurer changed her pay structure from salaried to hourly and increased her pay from $14.70 per hour to $19.12 per hour in August 2010, resulting in an overpayment to herself of roughly $660 above her salary.

The village is in the process of trying to recover the money for the salary and about $4,500 worth of insurance benefits she received over an 11-month period, according to the audit.

After hiring a bookkeeping service to gather sufficient financial information sought from then-Clerk/Treasurer Donna Barlow, and learning about the raise, the village Board of Trustees placed her on paid administrative leave, according to the audit.

Efforts to reach Barlow were unsuccessful late Friday. The village has since appointed Kate Miller as clerk/treasurer.

The failure of the clerk/treasurer to generate monthly financial reports is also cited as a reason behind the fact that 29 of the village’s 85 budget appropriation accounts were overspent by a total of $398,000.

Village Mayor Omer Cousineau could not be reached for comment Friday and calls to Village Hall went to an answering machine.

Village Trustee Douglas Plummer on Friday said trustees agreed not to comment about the issue under an agreement with Barlow.

But he said he believes the village Board of Trustees is getting a better handle on finances.

“I think we have learned a lot in the last year and have made a lot of changes and are very confident in the steps we’ve taken to ensure there is fiduciary responsibility,” Plummer said. “Things are back on track and we feel confident with the way finances are going.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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