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Audit outlines record-keeping deficiencies for town of Alexandria

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — A recently completed audit indicated that several record-keeping processes for the town of Alexandria need improvement.

Among those are an inability to log several different kinds of transactions, and tens of thousands of dollars in town checks issued in 2010 with dismal levels of supporting documentation, which presented a “significant risk” of problems.

The report from Bonadio & Co., Pittsford, was first presented last week during the Town Council’s monthly meeting.

Supervisor Dale D. Hunneyman said some of the findings were not a surprise.

“It shows we’ve got to get a better handle on our accounting,” he said.

The town has been working since the beginning of the year to improve its computer systems, with a goal of modernizing its accounting software by the start of 2015. That kind of work is critical, Mr. Hunneyman said, as the town faces uncertainty going into the preparation of its new budget.

“It makes you want to be accountable for every dollar that’s being spent, and how it’s being spent,” he said.

Councilman Ronald G. Thomson said during the meeting that he was concerned about a lack of an accounts receivable section within the town’s computerized accounting system, with bills instead typed onto scattered pieces of paper.

“It’s terrible,” he said.

However, he told residents at the meeting that things are changing and that the town is addressing the issue for the first time.

The new audit found 74 handwritten checks issued in 2010 that had no approval from the Town Council, with 38 featuring inadequate documentation. Though six of the poorly documented checks, worth $69,761.88, were for acceptable insurance payments, the other 32 represented $31,355.41 in payments.

Other employee checks also lacked appropriate oversight, the audit found.

The report said the town lacked a reliable system to track the number of hunting and fishing licenses and other permits it sells.

“This presents a serious risk because there is no system that can be used to reconcile the amount of cash that gets deposited into the Town’s bank account vs. the actual services provided by the Town,” the audit said.

The town’s transfer site and ice arena also had documentation deficiencies that created concern for auditors.

Some of the problems identified in the new report mirror those of a state comptroller report that came out in 2013, covering 2011 and about half of 2012.

Among the changes made in the aftermath of that report was requiring a pair of signatures.

Among the recommendations to the town were a new policy requiring supporting documentation for all expense reimbursements, and the incorporation of a log book and receipt system for transactions at the town clerk’s office.

Other suggestions were the implementation of a prepay system at the town’s transfer site, or a weigh station, and a formal review of the ice arena’s financial performance.

The town’s new audit can be viewed at http://wdt.me/FwCNTt.

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