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What you need to know for 01/22/2018

Audit criticizes village’s oversight on spending

Audit criticizes village’s oversight on spending

State auditors are urging the village of Richmondville to add more oversight on finances, but the vi

State auditors are urging the village of Richmondville to add more oversight on finances, but the village is urging auditors to find more pressing matters to delve into.

Mayor Kevin Neary believes controls on spending are fine the way they are and said state concerns are unwarranted.

The state Comptroller’s Office issued findings of an audit recently and determined the village was withholding the wrong amount of money from employees’ paychecks for health insurance.

Auditors also report the village spent about $325,000 without prior Village Board review and authorization.

The village of about 900 residents operates on a budget of about $1.95 million.

No money was found to be missing, but the audit suggests the staff of the village Clerk-Treasurer’s Office has too much control over payroll and spending functions.

“Village officials did not adequately implement controls or oversee the duties performed by staff members within the Clerk-Treasurer’s office. Therefore, no one can be sure any errors or irregularities that may occur will be detected and corrected,” the audit states.

Auditors found the village was withholding the wrong amount of money from employee paychecks, a total of 6 percent of total paychecks instead of $9.89 for individual health plans and $26.20 for family plans.

The audit contends that this discovery proves there isn’t sufficient oversight.

“Although the differences were minimal, this illustrates that errors were occurring and not being detected in a timely manner,” the audit states.

Auditors also found the clerk treasurer was given a pay increase of $1 per hour but approval by the Village Board was never documented.

The village contends the $1 raise was approved at a Village Board meeting but admits the pay raise wasn’t included in meeting minutes nor on a personnel form.

After the audit, the Village Board passed a resolution approving the pay increase.

“We disagreed with the auditors. We take our responsibility managing taxpayer money very seriously,” Neary said Monday.

According to the audit, the village adopted a resolution allowing for some bills to be paid prior to the Village Board reviewing them. But the type of bills it specifies are not allowed to be paid that way — including travel reimbursement and bills that will become delinquent if not paid by the next meeting.

About 447 payments reviewed by state auditors should not have been paid without prior Village Board approval, including $77,780 for health insurance premiums, $27,400 for supplies, $53,000 for insurance premiums and various others totaling $4,000 for travel, dental and optical allowances and clothing.

Neary said village officials review spending and all finances are reviewed by an independent accounting firm each year.

“We want to make sure we pick up anything that we’ve made mistakes on,” he said.

Though state auditors found discrepancies, Neary said he believes the village’s independent auditors would have caught them.

Neary said the village is working to modify its resolution allowing some payments prior to board approval so that it complies with state law.

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