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Audit: Bethpage Fire District out of compliance on $33G in expenses

The Bethpage Fire District headquarters at 225 Broadway

The Bethpage Fire District headquarters at 225 Broadway in Bethpage. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

A state audit of the Bethpage Fire District found nearly $33,000 in out-of-compliance or inadequately supported credit card expenses, according to a report released last week.

Six credit card charges totaling $24,831 did not comply with the district’s purchasing policy, which requires officials to seek competitive pricing on certain expenditures, according to the July 9 report from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that reviewed expenditures between Jan. 1, 2015, and July 31, 2016.

Forty-five credit card charges amounting to $8,029 were also not “properly supported” with documentation, such as itemized receipts, the report stated.

The audit recommended the board of fire commissioners practice more diligent expense reporting, institute procedures to monitor credit card use and enforce policy compliance.

“It is essential that the Board establish internal controls, which include policies and procedures, to help ensure that credit card transactions are authorized and adequately supported,” the report stated, adding that doing so would alleviate the risk of district officials using credit cards “for unauthorized purposes.”

The report also recommended the district require proof of attendance at conferences after auditors found $6,185 spent in that category without confirmation of attendance. The district’s travel policy already asks officials to submit an expense report with receipts.

Dennis Holz, chairman of the district’s five-member board, wrote in a letter to the state that, “there was no question that the expenditures were for legitimate Fire District purposes.”

“In order to add clarity to the Fire District’s credit card purchasing the Fire District will refine its credit card policy to stress and mandate that appropriate documentation is appended to all credit card vouchers,” he wrote.

The district will also amend its travel policy to ask officials to provide proof of attendance at conferences “when available,” Holz added.

The district provides fire protection and emergency rescue services to about 7,800 homes and received about $4.6 million in general funds in 2016, primarily through property taxes, according to the report. This was the state comptroller’s first audit of the fire district, said Brian Butry, the office’s deputy press secretary, on Wednesday.

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