Tonawanda News

June 5, 2013

Audit leads to policy changes

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

Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda will make some policy adjustments this month in response to an state audit conducted last year. 

Mayor Rob Ortt informed the common council of the move to require volunteer fire departments to submit advanced notice of fundraising events as well as any losses that occur as a result of the functions. City departments will also be mandated to give expense reports on a more routine basis. 

Ortt said that both changes stem from a New York State Comptroller’s audit held throughout 2012. City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said that while they are presented as recommendations, in actuality they serve as mandates. 

“There were two items that came to light during the audit,” Ortt said. “The state comptroller says they now have to report to us.” 

Those recommendations require the city’s six volunteer fire companies to inform the council in writing 30 days before any fundraising event, as well as submitting a financial report on expenditures and losses. 

“So if they have fundraiser and there’s a loss it’s got to be documented,” Ortt said. “The fire chief is responsible for making sure they’re complying.” 

The city’s department heads will also need to obtain three written or verbal quotes on any purchases made over $1,000. Additionally, departments are to submit purchase orders to the city accountant for those between $1,000 and $3,000. 

“So as a result each department handles their own purchasing needs,” he said, adding that departments may be able to better coordinate and save on bulk expenditures, like paper. “We have to tighten up how we’re doing that.” 

Both actions are expected to go before the council for approval on June 18 and will become official policy by June 21. Ortt said that what is being asked of department heads is in part influenced by the fact that the city has no central purchaser to oversee expenditures. 

The city accountant will now serve that role, while the council will also have more direct supervision. It may also lead to additional cost savings, according to the mayor. 

“Part of this is a formality,” he said. “But obviously what the auditors are concerned with is making sure that the exposure and risks of public funds is at a minimum.” 

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