Comptroller’s office critical of Dresden’s book keeping

D resden’s financial records are so haphazard that that there is no way to accurately determine the town’s fiscal condition, according to an audit released earlier this month by the state Comptroller’s Office.

The review of the town’s finances from 2010 to March of 2012 found that the town’s records are incomplete and there is no way to be sure that all funds have been accounted for and used solely for town purposes.

“It becomes difficult for the taxpayers to know what’s going on with the town’s finances,” said Brian Butry, a spokesperson for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “That should be a concern to the taxpayers.”

But Supervisor Robert Banks said residents shouldn’t be concerned.

“The bottom line is we couldn’t find everything right away but by the time they were done they found everything they were looking for,” Banks said.

Butry said there was no evidence of corruption or criminal activity and instead chalked up the slapdash bookkeeping to negligence.

The audit, however, did indicate several laws were broken.

“There were a number of laws under general municipal laws that were violated, specifically with requirements pertaining to financial reports that they were legally obligated to submit not only to the Town Board but to our office,” Butry said.

He said town and state laws related to the submission of financial reports and the responsibility of maintaining adequate and accurate books of town finances and having them on hand in a public building and available for public inspection were violated.

According to the audit, Banks was unable to provide paperwork for 30 percent of the town’s paid bills during that period.

When auditors asked for detailed financial records last spring, Banks provided a checkbook. But even that was incomplete and did not include deposits nor did it include the account balance. Instead it included only a record of checks that were written.

He was able to provide computerized records for 2010 and 2011 but those were also incomplete.

Banks did indicate that during the time of the audit he was in the hospital, which he says accounts for why he was unable to provide auditors with everything they were looking for.

“They didn’t receive the service they wanted,” Banks said. “We’re not in the business of making the state happy.”

Auditors said because Banks failed to keep records up to date and complete, he was unable to provide, as is law, fellow board members with a monthly statement of all monies received and disbursed. As a consequence, the Board’s ability to monitor the town’s financial operations was impaired, auditors found.

Banks also transferred money between various accounts without Board oversight.

Auditors examined all 336 bank transfers, totaling $2.6 million and found that all of the transfers were made into other Town accounts and could be accounted for.

Butry said the audit was initiated as part of the Comptroller’s Office risk assessment process and not a specific complaint, but there were things that caught the state’s attention.

“They hadn’t filed an annual update document in a number of years which is a huge red flag for our office,” he said.

Although Banks did not respond to the Comptroller’s audit, he said he will follow some of the recommendations auditors made but said he won’t use taxpayer’s money to do so.

“We’ll make the corrections and do what we think is right and needs to be done,” Banks said.

 

 

 

 

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