WHERE OUR MONEY GOES

BY TONI SOWA

Village of Nyack & Nyack Center — State Audit

Expenditures for the Village of Nyack totaled approximately $5.3 million for 2010-2011 fiscal year, and were financed primarily by property taxes and state aid, according to a new audit of the village from the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

Recently the Village of Nyack was audited by New York State Comptroller’s Office for the period of June 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011. The objective of the state audit was to determine if the village had proper procedures in place for purchasing goods and services at the lowest possible price, and whether claims were properly authorized and reviewed before payments were made for such services.

The Comptroller’s Office later extended the timeframe of the audit to include 2008 to July 31, 2011. Also added to the audit was The Nyack Center and the taxpayer funding appropriated for it.

The Nyack Center, located at 58 Depew Avenue, provides teen and after-school programs for local low-income families and other county residents. Since 2008, the village has contracted with the Nyack Center to provide services for residents including a popular a six-week children’s summer camp.

The Comptroller’s audit found from the start the Village of Nyack did not properly monitor or enforce the terms of its own “resident’s only” contract with the Nyack Center. Meaning village taxpayers may have paid as much as $216,026 from 2008 to 2011 for non-Village residents to attend the center’s summer camp.

In addition, the $288,000 of yearly village funding provided for resident-only services could not be completely accounted for. The contract stated that the Nyack Center was required to maintain separate financial records for village-only funding.

As a result of this, the Village of Nyack mingled its fund with the center’s other program money. State auditors could not determine how many village or non-village residents received services with village-only funds.

Newly elected mayor, Jen Laird-White, and James Politi, village administrator, said they were already in the process of correcting these financial mistakes before the audit began. The village response, printed in the NYS audit, was that before the hiring of a village administrator in 2010, the village treasurer had undertaken the day-to-day duties of village operations out of necessity and it was beyond his job description and capabilities.

In prior years, the treasurer only reviewed the annual financial report provided by the Nyack Center. Kim Cross, Nyack Center director, stated that since she took over as director in 2008, it was never brought to her attention that there should have been segregated records of bank accounts. However, it will be corrected and there will be all appropriate accounting and banking in the future, she said. Cross says she will also require secondary proof of village residency for enrollment in village funded programs.

The second part of the NYS Comptroller’s audit reviewed the purchasing and bidding of goods and services for the village. DiNapoli criticized village policy which does not require the solicitation of competitive bidding in the selection of professional services.

The village contracted with 21 professional service providers for approximately $276,000 without seeking competition. Furthermore, the village made purchases totaling approximately $122,000 without requesting quotes, as required by the village’s purchasing policy.

The NYS Comptrollers report recommended that Nyack Village officials consistently seek appropriate competition for purchases of goods and services. Mayor Jen White made it clear that all recommendations from the Comptroller’s Office will be taken very seriously. White says she is committed to correcting the oversights to everyone’s satisfaction.

Orangetown and Clarkstown officials have been put “on notice” that they must plan on funding children‘s programs for those who are registered in the Nyack School District, but are not residents of the Village of Nyack.