In its ongoing effort to “improve the financial management practices” of local governments, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office recently audited the Hampton Bays Fire District. The audit revealed that the district did not follow proper procedures to protect taxpayers.
According to the comptroller’s report, the Hampton Bays Fire District “improperly reserved $310,940 of fund balance for encumbrances that did not exist.”
As a result, the comptroller said, “the district understated its available fund balance.”
"The inaccurate calculation could have prevented the district from reducing property taxes," said Bill Reynolds, a spokesman for the comptroller’s office.
He said, “If the district is financially capable of reducing taxes, that is what people will be looking for.”
In addition to improperly reserving funds, the district, according to the comptroller's office, “did not adopt a purchasing policy and did not always comply with competitive bidding requirements.”
What that means, Reynolds said, is that by not complying with competitive bidding requirements, the district “may have run the risk of paying more for services than they should have.”
“You have a situation where more money could have been expended than necessary,” he said.
The district was also cited for “paying claims prior to audit and approval by the board of fire commissioners.”
Reynolds says the audit is designed to “provide guidance to officials” as well as “to protect taxpayer dollars and to give taxpayers and idea on how well their monies are being handled.”
With the audit, Reynolds said the fire district is required to respond with a corrective action plan within 90 days.
When asked about the audit, the Hampton Bays Fire District secretary said he had no comment, as he was unaware of the audit.