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What you need to know for 01/21/2018

Audit raps Niskayuna Water Department controls

Audit raps Niskayuna Water Department controls

The state Comptroller’s Office found “weaknesses” in the ability of Niskayuna officials to properly
Audit raps Niskayuna Water Department controls
The Niskayuna water tower as seen from John Paul Court.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The state Comptroller’s Office found “weaknesses” in the ability of Niskayuna officials to properly oversee the town’s water receipts, according to a new audit released Friday.

Town officials said changes they believe will satisfy the state have been made as a result of the audit.

The audit focused on internal controls over water operations from January 2012 to March 2013.

The Comptroller’s Office found the receiver of taxes failed to perform formal bank reconciliations or submit monthly reports to the Town Board.

The audit also found that more than $740,000 in water fees was deposited from two to six weeks late. The audit also noted, though, that all the money that should have been deposited was deposited.

The audit also found that the town comptroller did not annually audit the receiver of taxes’ financial records as required.

“As a result of these weaknesses, the board did not have reasonable assurance that the town resources were adequately safeguarded, properly accounted for and used only for town purposes,” the audit reads.

In all, the audit made four recommendations, all dealing with keeping closer tabs on Water Department payments and ensuring required audits are performed.

The town’s response is included in the audit in the form of a letter from Supervisor Joe Landry.

Landry noted that the audit found “no significant discrepancies.” He also noted that improvements have already been put in place.

“We believe that our responses to your four recommendations will serve to strengthen the already sound financial condition of the town, and will provide additional safeguards against potential misuse of town resources,” Landry wrote.

Among the responses is that the receiver of taxes has been advised to maintain an up-to-date checkbook balance and conduct a monthly bank reconciliation. She had been checking that information online, verifying deposits had been made.

She will also include water collection in monthly reports. She had been providing monthly reports, but water collections had not been included.

The comptroller has also been advised to perform an annual audit of the receiver of taxes’ records and reports. The audit is to be forwarded to the Town Board.

Landry said Friday that the board has been discussing the audit in committee and instituted the changes recommended by the audit.

He said he believed that overall, they did well.

“I think we did a good job in the audit in that they went through, looked at one area, found some procedural deficiencies that didn’t conform with recommendations and we fixed that,” Landry said.

The town provides water services to about 7,700 commercial and residential customers. The water fund’s 2013 budget was about $3.9 million, funded by special assessments and user charges.

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