PERSIA - A former town employee owes the town of Persia money. The town was recently audited by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's office.
The town clerk who was in office from 2005 to Dec. 31, 2011 is responsible for minutes of the town board as well as collecting tax monies. Part of her duties are to maintain accurate accounting records for transactions. "Internal controls over cash receipts in the Clerk's office were not appropriately designed or operating effectively. We found that the Clerk did not issue duplicate receipts, adequately record certain receipts or make deposits timely and intact. In addition, she did not perform monthly accountability analyses. We also found that the Board failed to audit the records of the Clerk as required," the audit stated.
The comptroller's office found the town clerk failure to audit her books regularly has cost the town board money.
"Had the Board ensured that proper controls were in place, it may have been able to detect or prevent the shortage of approximately $507 in Clerk receipts as of October 17, 2011, the shortage of $240 in 2010 tax receipts, and the overage of $899 in 2011 tax receipts," the audit said.
The town clerk is also required to deposit any collections within 24 hours and keep records of all transactions. The state comptroller's office found the clerk failed to maintain records as well as waiting past the required 24 hours to deposit monetary collections. During the 2010 tax year, the clerk remitted payment of $5,500 for fire district 3 taxes twice to the supervisor but failed to remit late payments of $2,820 which did not balance out for the county treasurer. The county supervisor had to pay the county $2,920 to settle the collection of overpayment and late penalties but left a shortage of $240.
In the 2011 tax year, the clerk reimbursed $166 for overpayment twice in error then failed to pay $2,490 to the supervisor for penalties. Instead the clerk remitted the balance of her collector bank to the county which included $226 deposited in 2010 to cover the shortage. The county then remitted $2,545 to the supervisor and retained $899 in deposits that exceeded reported collections to address any errors.
The clerk is supposed to keep receipts of transactions. Due to a lack of record keeping the clerk was found to have been missing $507. An external auditing firm found the clerk's account started with an overage of $354 for starting 2010. She failed to deposit $304 cash receipts in May 2010 and through January 2010 to October 2011, other minor errors and irregularities were found resulting in a shortage of $507 on Oct. 17, 2011.
The comptroller's office made the following recommendations to the board: the clerk should ensure money collected is deposited timely and intact; the clerk should remit collections to the supervisor on a weekly basis including penalties; the clerk should issue duplicate press-numbered receipts where no other form is available; the clerk should perform accountability analysis on a monthly basis; and the board should audit the clerk's records and report results in board minutes.
Supervisor Mel LeBar submitted a letter to the state comptroller's office. In the letter, LeBar said the board had tried to work with the town clerk to train her on correct procedure to no avail. Even town accountants would come in on a monthly basis to help the clerk. A new clerk was elected in November and LeBar had praise for her.
"We now have a new Town Clerk that is working with the board and is doing a fine job. She asked many questions of the examiner when he was in our office and is doing everything by the book," LeBar wrote. "We are very pleased with her performance and are confident that the errors found in the audit are a thing of the past."
The board has approved at a recent meeting to bill the previous town clerk for the money she has cost the town. The board also approved to audit the town clerk's books internally on a semi-annual basis.
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