Press-Republican

March 18, 2013

Audit faults Bangor on fee retention

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — BANGOR — A state audit says the Town of Bangor illegally allowed its code-enforcement officer and dog-control officer to keep revenue generated by their jobs.

The State Comptroller’s Office audit reviewed town records from Jan. 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012, and said the Town Council lacked proper oversight of its cash flow and allowed bank accounts to be opened, which is against town law.

The state also criticized Bangor for having an inadequate review of claims with no supporting documents and for not auditing supervisor, town-clerk, dog-control or code-enforcement records.

“As a result of these weaknesses, the board does not have reasonable assurance that town resources are being safeguarded, properly accounted for and used only for proper town purposes,” the audit states.

Attempts to reach Town Supervisor Gary Monica were not successful.

DOG CONTROL

The town owns a dog kennel managed by Dog Control Officer Roy

Richards, who keeps dog-seizure and financial records for the town and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, where he collects pet-redemption, adoption, veterinary and kennel fees.

The kennel and fees generate about $15,000 in revenue a year.

In January 2012, the Town Council allowed Richards to open a separate checking account and to let him keep half the money collected from the tribe, “which is not compensation authorized by town law,” the audit states.

Any cash collected is supposed to be given to the supervisor by the 15th of the following month, but Richards didn’t do this, the audit states.

And he did not issue numbered, duplicate receipts for the cash he received.

Of the 26 cash payments for $1,906 that were recorded, “we could not trace 13 collections, totaling $860 to a related deposit,” the audit states.

BANK ACCOUNT CLOSED

Auditors also looked at 27 cash transactions totaling $1,502 and found that five, totaling $349, did not have receipts, so they could not tell if they were actual town expenses.

Since the audit, the town has closed the separate bank account, and Monica collects fees daily.

The town gave Richards a raise so he will no longer take the cash from the tribe, and the Town Council will be provided a monthly financial and activity report, the audit said.

Richards has since returned $1,300 to the town collected from cases on the reservation.

CODE ENFORCEMENT

Robert Jock, the town code-enforcement officer, was allowed to keep building-permit fees and maintain a separate checking account.

Auditors reviewed all 17 building permits issued in Bangor in 2012, totaling $637, and found all of them accounted for in the records he kept.

But Jock did not deposit all receipts and paid himself $248 in cash from the money he took in and wrote himself an additional check for $90.

“The board’s failure to oversee departmental operations increases the risk that moneys could be misappropriated and any loss or theft may not be detected and corrected,” the audit states.

Since the audit, the town has closed the separate account, and all receipts were to be turned over to Monica daily. Jock will no longer keep building-permit fees.

He has since closed the checking account and been given a $1,000 raise to compensate for the loss in permit-fee collections.

CLAIM PROCESSING

Town law requires the board to audit and approve all claims before the supervisor pays them.

Auditors reviewed 760 claims, totaling $757,109, to see if they were filed properly and found 57 of them, amounting to $30,989, were paid before the Town Council approved them.

There were 18 claims for $7,054 that the supervisor didn’t show the councilors before they were paid, and 172 totaling $192,541 did not have adequate paperwork to go with them, but the council approved them anyway.

“Another 20 claims totaling $6,099 were paid incorrectly or for questionable purposes,” the audit states, “and 13 payments totaling $4,795 were paid to six individuals as independent contractors when these individuals were actually employees.”

One of those paid that way was a Town Council member’s son.

Since the audit, the town has determined that no vouchers will be submitted or paid without the proper, itemized paperwork. Once the supervisor approves a voucher, the Town Council will receive an abstract to review and sign.

The council also agreed that any independent contractors working for the town will be issued federal 1099 tax forms.

ANNUAL AUDIT

An audit of all town business where money transactions are made should be conducted every year, under town law.

But in Bangor, audits were done only for the town justices and the tax collector. 

The Comptroller’s Office states the town’s ability to monitor its finances is diminished if records are not examined, which increases “the risk that errors or irregularities could occur and remain undetected and uncorrected.”

According to the audit paperwork, Monica said in response that council members already receive a financial accounting each month, showing total revenue and expenses for each department and the beginning and end balance for each.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com