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Muttontown review by state cites failure to audit, bid for services

A state audit found the proposed annual budgets

A state audit found the proposed annual budgets from 2015-2016 through 2017-2018 presented to Muttontown residents and the board did not comply with New York State Village Law. Credit: Lisa Viscovich

The Muttontown Village Board failed to audit the village’s financial records in recent years and at times didn’t seek competitive bids for services, according to a review by the state comptroller’s office.

The state report, released March 8, concluded the board of six trustees hasn’t annually audited the clerk-treasurer’s records since 2014.

The review also found officials didn’t seek other proposals before selecting contractors. Village officials couldn’t provide documentation that they sought competition for eight of their service providers, who were paid a total of $1.3 million over the two years covered by the audit.

For example, it doesn’t appear the village attorney, who was paid $535,909 during the audit period, was “selected from an evaluation of competitive proposals,” according to the report.

“Because officials failed to seek competition when selecting professional services, they have little assurance that professional services are procured in the most prudent and economical manner without favoritism, extravagance, fraud and abuse,” the report reads.

Joe Russo, Muttontown’s acting clerk-treasurer, said the audit was “fair” and officials agreed with the report’s recommendations.

Russo said issues flagged by the state were concerns the new administration had already noticed and were working to fix. All six trustees and Mayor James Liguori came into office last year. Russo was appointed last year after the former clerk resigned following last year’s election.

“We noticed those as we first took office in July and we started implementing changes even as early as August,” Russo said.

According to the report, the board also did not audit individual claims before payments were made, and some payments were made before they were approved by the board.

The proposed annual budgets from 2015-2016 through 2017-2018 presented to residents and the board did not comply with New York State Village Law, according to the state audit. Reports were incomplete — without a schedule of revenue and expenditures for the previous year or an estimate of fund balance at year-end.

Russo said the board is addressing the concerns and is committed to finding competitive bids.

“One of the hallmarks of this administration was to go out and try to seek competition wherever possible,” Russo said.

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