Town cited by NY state comptroller after audits

The town of Dunkirk was recently cited in a list of municipal audits by State Comptroller Thomas Di-Napoli for violations in its money-racking procedures.

According to a press release by the comptroller’s office, the justice court, in 2012, did not accurately prepare monthly accountabilities of court assets and liabilities. In addition, “pending tickets were not always enforced in a timely manner and dismissed tickets were not always reported.

Also, the town board did not conduct an effective audit of the court’s records and did not properly segregate the court clerk’s duties or establish compensating controls.”

The press release said the town may not have collected all fines and fees to which it was entitled as a result of the inaccuracy. In the comptroller’s January audit, one former Justice had a shortage of $1,000 and another former Justice had unidentified funds of almost $700.

“(The board and the court office) are currently working jointly regarding the finances,” Town Supervisor Richard Purol said. “We were given a 90-day period to come up with and implement a corrective action plan, so by August that plan should be set. We’ve had various new judges over the years and sometimes they didn’t properly close out their bank accounts as they switched to the next guy. Once we get the finances to work out, the problem will be eliminated.”

To address the issue, Dunkirk town officials are in the process of setting up a multiple-source accountability system for the Justices to keep track of court funds and have the ability to cross-reference numbers among various sources.

“We’ve set them up on bookkeeping now and I’m actually going through and straightening out their records and that,” Dunkirk Town Clerk Jean Crane said. “Then they will have an accounting program in place and working. They’ll be able to match that up with their bank statements.”

Crane said the three accountability sources in place for the Justices will be the state court program, the accounting program and their bank statements.

“All three of those things will have to jive, and it will,” Crane said. “They just need to get caught up on it all. The money was there, that isn’t the question. The question was to prove it in monthly reports. And unfortunately, (10 or 15 years ago,) the prior court clerk didn’t know how to make those reports and nobody followed up on it, but they will now.”

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