Audit finds mistakes in Rouses Point

— Though the audit of the village finances was sternly worded, everything happening at the village meetings and treasurer's office is above board, said village officials.

“If there were any embezzlements or missing funds, you'd hear about it as soon as the audit came out,” said Village Treasurer Arsene Latourneau.

The report from the Office of the State Comptroller criticized the village's purchases of some items that didn't follow bidding processes or buy from a state contract approved vendor. That was a violation of the General Municipal Law, but not a criminal offense.

It also contained complaints about how carefully the village was tracking costs of capital projects.

Drawing monies from one fund and borrowing for public works projects from the village's general fund wasn't the best record-keeping practice, according to the report. But it was beneficial to the taxpayers, said the village treasurer.

"What we did is save thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Latourneau.

Although the practice isn’t good accounting, an Office of the Comptroller spokesperson noted that such mixing of funds is fairly common in small governments.

Adopting the fixes is a simple matter, though it will increase costs for the village. The treasurer has opened separate accounts already to make tracking funds for different projects easier, but “it costs us money to do that,” said Village Mayor George Rivers.

Instead of their long-running system where the board would pool funding, they'll need to bond the money, incurring interest and lawyer fees.

Overall, the report directed the village to pass resolutions approving spending, to not mix funds from different projects, to make regular financial reports of those funds to board, and to make purchases through bidding or on state contract.

“The unfortunate thing with an audit is that they don't publicize the 98 percent you're doing correctly,” said Latourneau.

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