Tonawanda News

June 12, 2013

Council considers policy changes

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council on Tuesday looked at city policy changes related to a 2012 state audit that raised questions over its purchasing practices. 

City Accountant Mark Dotterweich described some of those changes to the council during a work session meeting, with amendments likely to appear on the agenda next week for approval. Mayor Rob Ortt publicly raised the issue June 5. 

Dotterweich said one item that topped the list of the his departmental review is the need to require city employees to utilize verbal quotations from three separate entities for purchases between $1,000 and $3,000. The quotations would also record the vendors names as well as vouchers that would be held by the accounting department. 

Council President Rich Andres asked Dotterweich if a system was in place to monitor the quotes prior to the recent initiative. To which he replied: “To be honest, no. Sometimes you get comfortable with one vendor.” 

Dotterweich raised several other issues, including authorizing his department to “establish and maintain an internal control structure” to watchdog unauthorized transactions and to ensure that those transactions take place within the boundaries of any policy amendments. 

He also recommended that the city raise the limits of its travel expenses based on the area where an official or department head may venture and to do so with the oversight of the council. However, Dotterweich said that widespread travel does not occur within city goverment outside of a handful of conferences held each year. 

He further suggested that the council consider raising its milage rate for city employees using their personal vehicles for city business, from 40 cents to 55.5 cents per mile, in order to fall in line with federal rates. 

“I know it just got bumped up a couple of years ago from 20 cents,” he said. 

In other council news: 

• During a special session Tuesday, the council approved authorizing the Carrousel Society of the Niagara Frontier to seek funding for the refurbishment of a historic building at 39 Geneva Street. The structure was used as an office by the Allan Herschell company. The group is attempting to procure $140,000 in state funding. 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.