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Audit criticizes Bohemia fire district spending

The Bohemia Fire Department in Bohemia is shown

The Bohemia Fire Department in Bohemia is shown on June 15, 2014. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The Bohemia Fire District did not always use competitive bidding to maximize savings, and officials did not do all they could to avoid unnecessary overtime costs, according to an audit by New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released last week.

The audit reviewed the district’s purchasing procedures and employee overtime for the period from Jan. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016.

According to the audit, the district made two purchases from different vendors totaling $64,405 without engaging in a competitive bidding process.

It also made more than $230,000 in payments to 20 vendors without obtaining the number of quotes required in the fire district’s own purchasing policy.

“The board did not follow its procurement policy, but instead appointed specific vendors to provide goods and services for the year, without obtaining competitive bids,” according to a news release from the comptroller’s office.

DiNapoli’s office recommended that the district comply with competitive bidding requirements for all purchases and major public works contracts.

The comptroller also said the district should adopt new policies and procedures to cut back on unnecessary overtime costs.

Raymond Audett, chairman of the district’s board of commissioners, said fire district officials disagreed with some aspects of the audit, but they were working to make improvements in other areas.

He said that the district did get enough bids in its procurement process, but needed to do better at documenting that process — a change that already has been made.

Audett also said the overtime was necessary, largely snow-related and always approved by a supervisor — but documentation of those approvals must improve.

“We want to set the record straight that we will do better,” he said. “All overtime was verbally approved and everything will be written down now.”

The Bohemia Fire District provides fire protection and emergency services to approximately 10,000 residents.

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