An outside audit of the Supervisor’s Budget for 2012 at a cost of $7,500 was approved by the North Collins Town Board during a special session last Tuesday (May 28). This is as a result of about $116,000 that can not be accounted for.
The audit had been approved earlier in the month but had been capped at $1,800. Supervisor Rosaline Seege, who requested the outside audit, was unaware of an exact figure when the original audit proposal was approved. She also proposed retaining Laura L. Landers, MPA, CPA of FreedMaxick to conduct the audit.
Seege said that she was shocked that yearly audits had not been performed over the years leading for the need to start with one comprehensive audit. She also said that if she were a full-time supervisor, she could probably trace the accounting errors by spending 20 hours per week on the project, but that would cost the town much more than an external auditor.
Town Bookkeeper Agnes Parks summed up some of the problems encountered by herself and the Supervisor after taking office in January of 2012.
“The checkbook wasn’t balanced, cash receipts were not appropriately filed, debts were entered as credits and inappropriate fund numbers were used.” She continued by saying that many of the issues have been found but others have not.
“We’re going in circles,” Parks said, “Let’s fix what’s wrong and move forward.”
Seege was quick to state that there is no inference of any wrong doing in the shortage, rather, she believes that items misfiled in the past and duplicated over different budgets have led to the shortage. She also said that if yearly audits had been performed in the past, “we wouldn’t have had 44 lines declassified.”
Councilman George LoBianco made the original motion to retain an auditor at a cap of $1,800. and he was not pleased with the increase in cost. He suggested the State Comptroller’s office be brought in first and hire an outside auditor if it was recommended. His sentiment was echoed by Councilmen Jeffrey Krauss and Michael Perry. He also said that every meeting now gets tied up with bookkeeping issues and keeps the board from pursuing other issues.
Seege said that she has been in touch with the comptroller’s office on a regular basis on these various issues.
“They will come in if we report a problem,” she said, “But they will not do our accounting work for us.”
Sue Alessi of the Library Board told the town board, “I think it’s silly to quibble about the amount if we can recoup $116,000 or at least find out that it never existed, but we can eliminate the constant bickering over figures once and for all.”
Karen Ricotta, who worked for the state for 33 years, felt the audit should be done and would be in the best interest of the town.
LoBianco requested bids be solicited for the audit. Town Attorney Richard Schaus said if the board desired a request for proposals could be advertised but was not required. Seege, citing her professional duties said she works with all the major accounting firms in the area and from her knowledge the price presented is fair.
On a motion of Krauss, seconded by Councilman Marian Vanni, a resolution to retain Landers and FreedMaxick was approved with LoBianco voting no.
The supervisor’s audit increase does not impact the previously agreed audits of the town justice court and clerk’s office for the years 2011 and 2012.
In other business:
• The board, at the request of Recreation Director Rozalin Warren, set fees for next year for the after school program the town initiated this year. The fees will be: $6 per day for one child; $9 for two children and $1 additional each child after. LoBianco said the program was very much needed and that the fees are very reasonable. “We are just looking to cover the cost of the program,” he said.
The board also approved the fee for summer day camp at $65 per child for the entire program. That is up from $50 last year. Additionally the fee for the extended program which begins two hours before and lasts two hours after day camp was raised to $35., up from $25 last year.
• Following a brief executive session, the board declared a recently obtained “Taser” for use in town court as surplus and will make it available for purchase to any police agency interested. The decision was based on now having two officers on duty on court nights along with the liability issues that have stemmed from the device’s use in other municipalities.