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Audit finds fault with Elizabethtown books

ELIZABETHTOWN - The town of Elizabethtown must do a better job keeping track of its funds and fuel, a recent audit has determined.

The office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released their report last week of an audit that noted significant shortfalls in the way the town maintains records of gasoline pumped from bulk storage tanks at the town highway garage and Cobble Hill Golf Course.

The audit, which scrutinized records from January 2008 through April 2009, also found failure on the part of supervisor Noel Merrihew and his bookkeeper to keep accurate financial records and submit them to the town board for annual review.

Cash account balance tests for December 2008 and March 2009 found "discrepancies between the bank statement and general ledger balances that could not be explained, ranging from approximately $260 to $140,260,"

Additionally, four out of seven town expenditure accounts were found to be over-expended during the year by a total of $47,853. Instead of transferring money from accounts with a surplus, "town officials inappropriately transferred expenditures from over-expended accounts to accounts with appropriations remaining in order to keep expenditures in individual accounts under the budgeted figures," the report stated.

"The improper transfer of expenditures makes it difficult for town officials to prepare their budget and makes the use of the budget almost pointless," it added.

Auditors recommended that Merrihew and his bookkeeper attend training to learn how to properly use the town's financial management software and emphasized for accurate records to be submitted regularly to the town board for review.

Fuel usage

The audit also examined records pertaining to the usage of gasoline and diesel fuel purchased by the town.

Town fuel usage has been a point of contention in the past as some Elizabethtown residents have criticized Merrihew and other town officials for using tanks at the Cobble Hill Golf Course to fuel vehicles used elsewhere than the golf course.

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