Mastic Beach Board authorized an audit to examine past financial practices.
DECEMBER 16TH, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: In May 2015, the Village of Mastic Beach Board passed a resolution to undergo a self-imposed forensic audit of the Village financial records. Mayor Maura Spery called for this resolution in response to concerns by then-Interim Village Attorney David Eldridge regarding reports from the new administration about how money had been handled.
Village Attorney Guy Germano stated, “The Village hiredCramer CPA, P.C. to conduct a forensic investigation of various Village activities. Robin A. Cramer, President of Cramer CPA, P.C., has over 25 years of industry experience and holds the following accreditations - Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Certified Financial Forensics (CFF) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Ms. Cramer managed the investigation and the findings have been summarized in a report. This report was delivered on December 14, 2015 to the Mayor, Village Attorney, and Village Clerk. The Village Clerk distributed the reportto the entire Board of Trustees prior to the public meeting. The Board discussed the report and results of the forensic investigation at the December Public Meeting on Tuesday, December 15th, 2015, at 7 p.m. (Village Hall, 369 Neighborhood Road, Mastic Beach, New York 11951). The report has been made public on the Village website.”
Mayor Maura Spery said, “We had serious concerns about the cash management and depositing procedures of the past administration. Our current Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer brought up alarming questions about financial records that did not exist and State-mandated payroll procedures that were not followed. We had no choice but to conduct an investigation. The taxpayers have the right to this information so they can understand just how their money was handled.”
At the heart of this report are these grave concerns that occurred before April 2015:
- Payroll records were altered and missing;
- Overtime expenditures were manipulated;
- Undocumented cash handling and missing cash-receipt records;
- Inadequate cash depositing by unknown individuals;
- Missing financial records;
- Sporadic record keeping of building-permit payments;
- A culture of corruption that allowed for the misappropriation of funds.
Trustee Elizabeth “Betty” Manzella stated, “This report is validation that our Village leaders are on the right path to fix the challenges that face Mastic Beach Village. The forensic investigation exposed that under past administrations, mismanagement of cash, manipulation of timesheets and improper protocols were commonplace. While critics dismissed the investigation as some kind of witch-hunt, it is clear that the funds were well spent to identify and correct procedures, and that our administration must continue to work to put our financial house in order. This report is not about pointing fingers or throwing stones but to provide solutions and keep moving our village forward in the right direction.”
Not wanting to delay, Mayor Spery had her finance department put into place checks and balances months ago between the Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer, Department Heads and Board Liaisons to help mitigate against transgressions occurring.
Treasurer Hedy Bluth and Deputy Treasurer Dawn McNeil have created multi-faceted reconciliation processes. Additionally, they have put in place new protocols including: a cash-audit trail, segregation of duties for enhanced internal control and formalized payroll and depositing procedures. The Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer also have put into place procedures that now require Department Heads to sign off on any financial documentation from their department, including expenditures, payroll, and overtime. Moreover, the Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer have established procedures whereby Department Heads are now held accountable to operate within their budgetary allocations. Also, the Board Liaisons have full access to the files and are encouraged to sign off on all expenditures for their department. Working closely with the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Treasurer Bluth has been successful in correcting past reporting errors and omissions.
Treasurer Hedy Bluth said, “The Board has been diligently checking the financial reports for each of their departments. Monthly financial-assessment reports are given to the Board of Trustees and monthly abstracts are filed with the Village Clerk. Everyone has been very proactive double checking the Village’s financial abstracts at the monthly meeting. The Board is well aware of current spending and is helping to ensure that departmental finances are in order.”
Mayor Maura Spery added, “We continue to improve on our Village systems, policies and procedures. The Information-Technology Audit is still underway, and we expect a report in the next few months.”
The Forensic Investigation Report can be found on the Village website www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/audits.