PERU — A State Comptroller’s Office audit is critical of fiscal operations in the Town of Peru, but the supervisor says most of the issues have already been addressed.
Representatives from the Comptroller’s Office reviewed the town’s financial activities from Jan. 1, 2011, to Feb. 29, 2012, and identified problems in a half-dozen areas, including interfund advances, bank reconciliations, monthly reports and accounting records.
“The board failed to correct all of the deficiencies that were identified in our previous report of examination that was issued in November 2007, which cited weaknesses with the maintenance of accounting records and reports and board oversight,” the report states in its introductory section.
“If the board does not address the internal control weaknesses identified in this report, the board is at significant risk of making misinformed financial decisions that could result in serious fiscal problems for the town.”
For instance, the report cites Town Supervisor Peter Glushko and the Town Council for not providing “effective oversight of the town’s financial operations. Poor management oversight has contributed to the town having incomplete and inaccurate accounting records.”
Town officials were required to respond to the audit with a detailed description of how the they would work toward correcting the deficiencies. Glushko said he believes the town is well on its way toward completing those corrections.
“We started to fix these problems as (the auditors) identified them (during the audit),” he said from his office. “They identified things as, ‘This is what you need to be doing,’ and ‘This is what needs to be in place.’
“They were very specific, very helpful, and we’ve been able to move on and correct the way things were being done.”
A lot of the fiscal shortcomings were created long before the current council took shape, Glushko noted.
“Things were broken, and we needed to fix them. We wrote up a plan (following the 2007 audit), but that plan was never implemented. The auditors gave us a fairly comprehensive look at what we needed to fix (this time around), and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
For instance, the audit was critical of how office workers were being trained to handle the town’s fiscal operations. Glushko and the town’s bookkeepers have now either attended formal training programs offered by the state or are scheduled to attend upcoming sessions.
Glushko has also taken steps to provide more detailed financial reports to the council on a month-to-month basis. Those reports, presented at the first public meeting of each month, must include the past month’s revenues and expenditures.
The town also has to be more aware of transfers from one fund to another and that transfers are authorized and recorded properly, the audit said.
A lot of problems with interfund transfers developed during last year’s flooding from the spring runoff and Tropical Storm Irene, when emergencies required prompt action, Glushko noted.
“Everything was happening at once,” he said of the Tropical Storm Irene response. “We had to get things done quickly and pay people as work was piling up. But the town board knew what we were doing and where money was coming from.
“We have learned from this emergency situation and will follow proper approval procedures in the future.”
Glushko does not know when the Comptroller’s Office may return for a follow-up audit but did say that the town will continue to conduct internal control audits to ensure operations are following proper protocol.
Email Jeff Meyers:
email@example.comSEE THE REPORT To review the New York State Comptroller's audit for Peru and the town's response, go to www.osc.state.ny.us and search for municipal audits, Peru.