A state Comptroller’s Office audit determined the town of Richmondville was lax in administering grant money for a new local business that closed within a year.
In response to the audit, Town Board members strongly rebuffed many of the criticisms surrounding the Maranatha Family Center, a recreation, health and medical facility that opened in October 2012 but closed the following September.
State grant funds totaling nearly $3 million were used on a $5.6 million project that went 12 percent over budget, the report states.
“Although the [Town] Board properly administered some aspects of the grants, it failed in certain key areas,” the audit reads. “The board also relied on the developer’s consultant to prepare grant applications on its behalf and did not review the consultant’s work to ensure that the town was properly protected.
“Further, the board hired its own consultant to monitor the project and disburse grant moneys. However, it did not review this consultant’s work and ensure that moneys were disbursed for proper project purposes. Instead of monitoring the entire project as a whole, the consultant monitored grants individually, which resulted in a $75,000 duplicate payment being made using grant moneys. …
“Furthermore, neither the board nor town officials ensured that the project stayed within the original facility construction budgeted cost of $3.8 million. … Had the board adequately monitored this project, some of these deficiencies could have been avoided.”
The Town Board disputed some of the findings, including the depth of its fiduciary responsibility since no town funds were invested. As for the double payment, the town maintains the payments were directed by the state.