Patchogue mayor to form spending oversight panel

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Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri plans to spearhead a new review committee to provide strong oversight to loosely governed municipal spending policies.

The comments, made at Monday's village board meeting, came in light of a state audit released last month that revealed the Patchogue board of trustees had $284,808 in unauthorized expenditures on one project and experienced cost overruns in two of five projects examined.

The village committee will consist of two trustees, the village attorney and two village residents, said Pontieri, who downplayed the significance of the audit.

"The criticisms were based upon not that the money was misappropriated [but] that we didn't follow policy," he said. "And part of that policy is very clear: that before you can do an expenditure, you must approve an appropriation. And we did not approve an appropriation, even though the money was in hand."

The village started projects totaling $549,015 before securing funding and board authorization, in violation of state finance law; and it had not established policies and procedures related to the security of data and assets, the state audit found. "The village board did not properly authorize all capital projects, nor did it effectively monitor them," the audit report stated.

The audit made several recommendations, including that the board adopt resolutions authorizing the maximum estimated cost of each project at its inception and to secure financing before each start.

The mayor said the committee will look at several municipal policies, such as travel, to ensure they are up to date.

Brian Butry, a spokesman for the office of state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, yesterdayTuesday welcomed the self-scrutiny. "We urge the village board to continue it's oversight role going forward," he said.

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