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Comptroller slams village policies, could lead to calls for court action

LAKE PLACID - A report released this week says officials from the village of Lake Placid were grossly overpaid for work they never performed.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli blasted Lake Placid village government Wednesday following the completion of an audit that found employees were paid nearly $111,000 for unapproved or totally unearned leave time accruals.

In a verbal smack-down, DiNapoli said the village board was guilty of brash negligence when it dolled out over $93,000 in unearned or unauthorized leave accrual payments between August 2008 and October 2009.

"Lake Placid has to get its fiscal house in order and fast," DiNapoli said.

"Local governments must be more vigilant than ever in exercising their financial responsibilities to protect taxpayer resources from abuse and errors."

The audit found Village Clerk Kathryn "Kook" McKillip received a whopping $38,000 in unauthorized leave accrual payments over the 14 month period, including $22,774 which she never actually earned.

DiNapoli also found the village paid seven department heads over $40,000 in unauthorized leave payments.

The audit states Lake Placid spent about $18,000 on dental and health insurance for employees who are no longer eligible.

Lake Placid Village Mayor Craig Randall said his administration started noticing discrepancies in the village books shortly after he took office - and shortly before the Comptroller's Office began the investigation.

He said the time in question was during a brief period when the village clerk was also handling the treasurer's duties.

Randall says the temporary lack of segregation of duties may have caused a problem.

"When I spoke to the ladies downstairs, I got answers which were inconsistent with the work they were doing, which is accounting work," he said. "If you read municipal law, it gives the treasurer absolute control of the village. She's accountable to the mayor, but the law specifies exactly what the treasurer can do and what a clerk can do."

DiNapoli is calling for a segregation of the village's payroll duties and increased oversight from the village board.

Randall said the board will be wading through the audit's fallout for months.

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