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What you need to know for 01/23/2017

Johnstown to state: 'It's been a real joy'

Johnstown to state: 'It's been a real joy'

Johnstown’s town supervisor has accused a state agency of trashing the town in more ways than one.

Town of Johnstown audit

Read the state Comptroller's Office's report on its audit of the town of Johnstown at http://media.dailygazette.com/documents/johnstown_town_audit.pdf

Johnstown’s town supervisor has accused a state agency of trashing the town in more ways than one.

The state agency’s reply: Don’t blame us for your (literal) mess.

The unusual exchange is contained in an otherwise routine audit by the state Comptroller’s Office that was released Friday. The office, in a Report of Examination for the 2013 calendar year, took the town to task over its payroll procedures involving its Highway Department.

In an appendix to the report, town Supervisor Nancy MacVean said the town has addressed the concerns and modified its time sheet policy. But after enumerating Johnstown’s response to criticisms from the Comptroller’s Office, MacVean went on the offensive in a conversational, snark-filled way, accusing the agency of trashing town offices.

“It’s been a real joy having you guys here,” reads her response, on town letterhead, that is attached to the report. “You took files from each office, threw them in boxes and buried them in the records room. We are still looking for a lot of files that were not returned to the correct offices.

“You also managed to start a war with the highway department and town board. They are now starting a union at the highway department, don’t trust the town board and basically hate us.

“Thanks so much for coming. I really look forward to your next visit.”

MacVean did not return a message Friday seeking comment.

The Comptroller’s Office responded in a note contained in the 16-page report compiled by its Division of Local Government and School Accountability. The short version: What are you talking about?

“Town officials told us when we started our examination that the records room was not organized and they would provide us with any records we needed. As a result, we never entered the records room and all records were provided to us by Town officials which we subsequently returned,” the response reads. “Furthermore, a Town official signed a chain of custody form that certified the records provided to us were returned.”

The Comptroller’s Office had cited the town for shortcomings in its handling of Highway Department payroll.

“The [Town] Board needs to improve its policies and procedures over payroll to ensure that Town officials maintain adequate time records, accurately calculate overtime pay and monitor leave accrual use,” the audit read. “As a result of the deficiencies we identified, officials overpaid 13 employees by more than $3,500 in overtime pay even though the Town personnel policy states that leave time should not be included in the calculation of overtime.

“For example, 10 highway employees each received 16 hours of paid holiday leave for Thanksgiving and the following day, which was also included as time worked. These employees each received inappropriate overtime pay for 151 work hours that should have been paid at their regular pay rate, resulting in an overpayment totaling $1,390. Lastly, prior to their retirement, two former highway employees were allowed to use 1,240 sick leave hours valued at more than $24,000, including 136 hours of paid sick leave to which they were not entitled.”

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