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State Comptroller Reports On Village Of Homer Audit

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Thomas DiNapoli, NYS Comptroller

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has announced his office has completed an audit of the Village of Homer.

In a statement released to X101 News, DiNapoli said, “In today’s fiscal climate, budget transparency and accountability for our local communities is a top priority. By auditing municipal finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”

DiNapoli indicated that the purpose of the state audit was to assess controls over Village of Homer purchasing and credit cards for the period March 1, 2015 through April 13, 2017, mostly prior to the start of the term of Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe.

The Comptroller’s office had this goal: Did Village officials design and implement sufficient controls over purchases of at least $800 and credit card purchases?

Auditors also reviewed controls of purchases made using the Village’s credit card for the period March 1, 2015 through April 13, 2017.

Additionally, the auditors went back as far as 2006 to review versions of the Village’s purchasing policy.

 

Key Findings

  • According to the Comptroller’s audit, Homer Village Board of Trustees members and certain department heads said they were unaware of the requirement that purchases be approved by the Mayor and a Trustee, or by two Trustees, prior to the purchases being made.
  • The Board did not adopt a policy regarding the use of Village credit cards.

 

Key Recommendations

  • Distribute the procurement policy to all department heads and applicable staff to ensure they are aware of its requirements.
  • Adopt a credit card policy to establish controls and guidelines over the use of credit cards.

“We fixed the purchasing issues the second week I was in office with new policy, making sure we had a PO for every expense and that no purchases were made without PO authorization.” Homer Mayor Hal McCabe

Audit Notes
The Village has one credit card account with two credit cards. The previous Mayor and previous Clerk-Treasurer each controlled a card. We reviewed all 18 credit card claim packets, which represented 63 card charges totaling $19,271. We found that 48 charges (76 percent) totaling $15,122 did not contain vendor invoices or receipts, and 11 claim packets (61 percent) totaling $8,647 were not approved by the required number of Board members.

Furthermore, without vendor invoices or receipts, we were unable to adequately determine whether the 48 purchases (i.e., purchases from a discount department store, local eateries and hotels) were for legitimate Village purposes. These discrepancies occurred because the Board has not established a credit card policy and Village offi cials did not realize the importance of such a policy.

The Board was advised to:

  • Distribute the procurement policy to all department heads and applicable staff to ensure they are aware of its requirements.
  • Adopt a credit card policy to establish controls and guidelines over the use of credit cards.
  • Require vendor invoices and/or receipts be attached to all claim packets, including credit card claims.
  • Audit and approve all claim packets prior to payment.

 

The Village Response

Homer Mayor Hal McCabe administers the oath of Trustee to newly-elected Democrat Timothy Dadey

Homer Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe responded by letter with a pledge that the village will establish a policy for credit card use, and train staff on the rules for credit cards.

McCabe’s letter also pointed out that in August, the Board of Trustees split the Clerk-Treasurer position in two with one shared assistant, to better manage village affairs.

In a statement to local media, McCabe explained:

“We canceled the Village credit cards when I took office and have not had them since while we were developing a policy to address the issues the Comptroller found with how the previous administration did business with them. We still do not have credit cards for the Village and will not until we vote on the new policy.”

McCabe says, “I called for the audit to ensure that the Village was in compliance so that when I started, I could start with a fresh slate, having addressed anything that was discovered that was not up to snuff. This we have done and are in the middle of completing with the credit card policy. But we fixed the purchasing issues the second week I was in office with new policy, making sure we had a PO for every expense and that no purchases were made without PO authorization.”

Link: The Comptroller’s Audit and Village of Homer Response

For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 130,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created to promote transparency in government and provide taxpayers with better access to financial data.

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