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Comptroller's report praises Westhampton Beach schools for fiscal checks and balances

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is seen

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is seen on Sept. 19, 2014. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has released a report commending the Westhampton Beach school district for installing sound financial checks and balances for transactions made during the 2014-2015 school year.

"District officials have established adequate controls over the claims processing function that ensure claims are audited in a timely manner, properly supported and for legitimate District purposes," according to the 10-page audit released by DiNapoli's office.

District officials said they agree with the findings and thanked state officials without disputing any elements in the report.

"The positive feedback we received affirms our efforts to operate with the highest degree of fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability to the students and taxpayers we serve," district officials wrote in its response, dated Nov. 20. "The District would like to express its appreciation to the Office of the State Comptroller and commend the members of the audit team for the professional and courteous manner in which they undertook their important responsibilities."

The report cited the district's hiring in 2002 of a claims auditor, a move that delegated the authority to review, allow and reject all claims to a financial examiner who reports to the district board of education. The function supplements the role of the assistant superintendent for business, who is responsible for administering all purchasing activities, the audit said.

The audit examined 25 transactions made between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. The purchases totaled $138,151, a fraction of the 3,919 transactions totaling $34,408,345 made through the year.

Auditors selected the transactions to review by limiting the field to only purchases between $3,000 and $20,000, of which there were 292. They then randomly selected a number from that subgroup and selected every fourth transaction for closer review until they reached 25 transactions.

"The claims we tested were audited prior to payment and appeared to be for proper District purposes," the audit said.

In one apparently irregular instance in which a purchase order was made for $6,398 after the invoice was received from a vendor, district officials issued a letter chiding the department for violating protocol, and required the department to explain why it erred."We commend the District for taking an active approach in handling the confirming purchase order," the audit read. "Furthermore, we commend District officials for designing and implementing an effective system of controls over the claims auditing process."

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