SHERIDAN - A recent audit by the state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office found the town of Sheridan did not adopt a written policy for the use of town-provided cellphones.
According to the report, "Although the town established some controls to be reimbursed for the cost of cellphone services provided to certain individuals, it lacked a policy or contract stating what amount should be reimbursed, when payments are due and what is to be done if someone does not reimburse the town in a timely manner."
The auditor inspected the period from January 2012 through September 2013 to determine if the town was reimbursed in accordance with guidelines described by the town clerk.
In early 2012, Sheridan provided 22 phones to various individuals, including relatives of town officials. The town incurred the full cost of service for three phones, billed three other officials for part of the cost of service and billed the entire cost of service for 16 phones.
"Of the 19 town-provided phones that the clerk indicated reimbursement was required, 10 were either paid in full or had immaterial differences, five were not paid timely and four were unable to be reviewed because the town did not provide proper documentation," the audit stated.
The town was billed $12,700 for phone service during the audit period. As of September, the total outstanding balance due to the town was $576.
"Because the board did not adopt a policy governing the use of town-provided phone service, the town cannot be assured that all phones are necessary," the audit stated. "Purchasing unnecessary phone service and paying for other than town officials' phone services is a misuse of taxpayer money."
Supervisor Louis Delmonte sent a response explaining Sheridan's corrective action plan, including the immediate adoption of a written policy.
"Under the policy ... the supervisor, as well as the highway superintendent and code enforcement officer, will receive a credit up to $50 per month each toward phone expenses (since they are "on-call" at all times). If there is a remaining balance, the town will be reimbursed by a payroll deduction, thus eliminating delinquent reimbursements," he wrote. "The total number of phones has been cut from the original 22 down to 10."
Delmonte added family of town officials were added since the cost would be lower, assuming reimbursements.
"The town did not actually burden the taxpayers with unnecessary purchases and provision of service, as the town was reimbursed by everyone on the plan ... It may have taken some time to receive the reimbursements, but all were received. With the new policy, timely reimbursements is a given."
The written policy eliminated the ability of relatives to be provided phones. All payments will now be made through payroll deductions or monthly payments. The supervisor must now approve any issuance of a phone.
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