What’s Wrong with New York State

Want to know what’s wrong with NYS? Check out the following:

The Town of Greenberg: “Bank balances exceeded book balances by as much as $12,249 and were less than the book balances by as much as $5,637 in the months they reviewed. A 2004 audit conducted by the Unified Court System identified similar deficiencies, and court officials have failed to correct them, auditors determined.”

The Village of Altmar: “DiNapoli’s auditors found the town board had not established adequate internal controls over cash receipts and disbursements with an insufficient segregation of duties within the clerk-treasurer’s office.’

The Village of Cedarhearst: “Village officials procured goods and services totaling $150,944 without soliciting competition, vendors cashed checks totaling $148,023 before the underlying claims were approved for payment, and the district’s IT resources are at risk of loss or misuse in the event of a disaster or inappropriate activity.”

The Town of East Greenbush Ambulance District Operations: “Town officials also allowed the squad to keep $400,000 of ambulance district revenues derived from the user charges in 2008 and use that money without ever remitting them to the town comptroller. Auditors also found the district inappropriately transferred its ownership of three vehicles to the squad.”

Village of Newark Justice Court: “DiNapoli’s auditors found no systems in place to ensure that cash received by the court was properly accounted for and safeguarded. Furthermore, the board failed to enact adequate cash collection policies and procedures in the court, police department or the justice’s law office (where some fines and bails were collected).”

Town of Southampton: “DiNapoli’s auditors found that Southampton did not correctly interpret the 2007 amendment, subsequently costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The amendment states that school districts can qualify for PILOTS even if they have less than 25 percent of their assessed value exempt from property taxes.”

Town of Southeast: “Separately, the Southeast board could not provide a written job description to the town attorney or enter into a written contract with the attorney’s firm for legal services. Therefore, the board could not determine which duties the town attorney may have performed as an employee and which services his firm may have billed for as an independent contractor.”

Town of Watertown: “DiNapoli’s auditors found the Watertown board had not established a written contract stating the purpose of the town’s $60,000 payment to its local development corporation (LDC). The town has not received any discernable benefit or fair and adequate consideration from the LDC for the payment.”

Those are just last week’s audit reports by the NYS Comptroller. They demonstrate that local government in New York is a mess, that money is wasted, that officials fail to follow professional procedures and practices and that even the threat of being audited is not a sufficient incentive for local government to clean itself up.

One answer: government consolidation. Fewer entities would be easier to audit and with more people involved in the consolidated agencies, would make it harder for incompetent officials to hide their careless and often fraudulent behavior.

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