Audit Criticizes Review Of Financial Records

An audit by the state Comptroller’s Office found that the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District did not routinely review financial records.

The audit, which reviewed cash receipts and disbursements from Jan. 1, 2016, to May 1, 2017, came during the same time that an assistant treasurer was found to have stolen $4,100 in county founds.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on Wednesday released several municipal audits. Included was the county Soil and Water Conservation District — an organization that provides services and funds projects to improve and maintain wildlife habitat, help control and prevent water pollution and manage erosion control and other related land use issues.

Several “key findings” were noted by the comptroller in his office’s audit of the district:

¯ the board did not regularly review financial records to ensure that receipts were properly recorded and deposited in the bank and that disbursements were properly supported and approved for District purposes;

¯ the assistant treasurer admitted to stealing $4,100 in county funds from 2012 to 2017 and resigned from her position;

¯ the board does not review all individual claims.

¯ the board has not adopted written cash receipts and disbursements policies.

Also included were recommendations:

¯ regularly review financial records to ensure that cash receipts were properly recorded and deposited in the bank and that disbursements were properly supported and approved for District purposes;

¯ ensure that duties over the cash receipts process are properly segregated;

¯ conduct a deliberate and thorough audit of all claims prior to approval for payment;

¯ adopt written policies governing the cash receipts and disbursements process.

In May, Debra Kelley was charged with petit larceny after a review discovered a gap between cash fees collected and the amount deposited in the bank.

The 48-year-old Portland resident resigned after 26 years of county employment and agreed to pay back the $4,100 in restitution, DiNapoli said in a press release. Kelley allegedly pocketed the money between 2012 and 2017.

“The trust put into Ms. Kelley by Chautauqua County residents was violated,” DiNapoli said at the time. “Her actions and the consequences are a warning to others who violate their duty to the public.”

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