Saturday, January 23, 2010

Auerbach Audit Prompts Action From AG Cuomo

The New York State Attorney General’s office has recently contacted the Town of Lloyd asking what steps they will take to recover $270,000 in development fees that were never collected for a host of projects identified in a town commissioned audit covering the years 2004- 2008.

In a Dec. 30 letter, Town Attorney Sean Murphy informed the Town Board of the state’s interest in this issue. Murphy stated that he responded that Lloyd was in the process of determining what course of action they were going to take. The Attorney General’s Office indicated they will be contacting the town again by the middle of February for an answer on their plan of action.

Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said he had reviewed the Vannacore, DiBenedictus, DiGovanni and Weddell audit report. Auerbach is the county’s chief official who monitors governmental accounts and expenditures.

“It certainly raised some concern and that is why I prompted the New York State Attorney
General’s office to take a closer look at this,” he said.

Auerbach said Lloyd should have collected their entitled fees during the planning procedure.“The town may have not charged and collected everything that was due to them through the process, and the report certainly speaks to that,” he said.

Auerbach said it appears the Attorney General’s Office is, “letting the town know there are some concerns here that were raised by the report and will most likely give the town the opportunity to remedy any of those issues.”

Auerbach said he is certain Lloyd has to reply to the state’s inquiry.
“I am sure the Attorney General is going to expect a response from the town,” he said. “More importantly I’m sure that the public would expect a response from the town. This is the type of issue, once brought to the forefront, will raise some public concern.”
Auerbach said the firm referred to their four-year analysis as an investigation. Auerbach highlighted the most significant sentence in the report.

“There were 21 instances out of 61 of maps being signed by the chairperson [Lou DuBois] of the Town Planning Board without the appropriate fees ever being collected,” Auerbach said. “Right there, that jumps out at you. I am sure that would raise issue with the Attorney General’s office.”

Auerbach said it is possible the Attorney General’s Office may “very well” force the collection of fees.

Auerbach again read from the report: [In] conclusion, our investigation uncovered that there was under-collection of subdivision, recreation, and drainage fees of $125,000 and $105,000 respectively.”Auerbach commented, “We are looking at a substantial amount of money, close to a quarter of a million dollars and that is just for this window of time.”

Auerbach urged the town to go beyond the time frame covered by the audit.
“It would be in the best interest of the current town administration to address these issues that were raised and possibly go back several more years to see if there were any other inequities,” he said. Auerbach said he thought the Attorney General’s Office will also re-examine the relationships between the town and the numerous developers who were cited in the audit.
“I am sure they will dig further into that as well,” he said. “They have a local government efficiency office that would probably look at this closely.”

Auerbach said his role in this issue is limited due to Ulster County codes.
“That’s why I felt it was incumbent upon me, once brought to the attention of my office, to bring the state’s Attorney General Office into it,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the AG to carry this further.”
By Mark Reynolds

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now lets work on the Sheriffs' Office please!