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State finds impropriety in Patchogue audit

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks during

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks during a news conference in Albany. (Jan. 9, 2012) Credit: AP

The Patchogue board of trustees had $284,808 in unauthorized expenditures on one project and experienced cost overruns in two of five projects reviewed by state auditors, officials said Thursday.

The village also 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 relating 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 office of state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli wrote in findings released Thursday.

Mayor Paul Ponteri said that while he had not fully reviewed yesterday's report, officials would follow some of the audit's recommendations. He said many of them were formalities and did not involve mishandling of funds. "They are criticizing us for things we didn't even know we were doing wrong," he said.

He also criticized the state for conducting its first audit of the village in 20 years.

The state office reviewed five capital projects with expenditures totaling $11,397,503 from June 2010 to June 2011, said Brian Butry, DiNapoli's spokesman.

Of the projects examined, two exceeded the board-authorized amounts by a total of $1,900,957, auditors found.

The state office also found that, on one project, the board had unauthorized expenditures totaling $284,808. While it was discussed in board meetings, and resolutions were passed approving construction contracts, the governmental body "did not authorize the project in advance of these actions," the audit read.

The audit also cited the village for $77,294 in uncollected sewer fees. Village officials countered that they had collected $20,000 of those outstanding fees in June.

The audit recommended that the board adopt resolutions authorizing the maximum estimated cost of each project at its inception and that financing should be secured before the start of each project. The board should also require periodic capital expenditure reports, showing the authorization for each project.

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