By ARTHUR CLEVELAND
CHARLESTON - A New York state Comptroller's Office audit said the town's internal controls over payroll were not properly designed, leading to employees gaining benefits they were not entitled to receive.
According to a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the town's payroll department was not properly designed or operated effectively, leading to six highway department employees received a total of 134.5 hours of leave accrual benefits they were not entitled to.
According to the report, which covered Jan. 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, the town did not have written policies or procedures that related specifically to payroll processing.
The town has a collective bargaining agreement with highway department employees for pay rates and other benefits. The agreement includes provisions for the collection and use of vacation, sick and personal leave, as well as compensatory time earned in lieu of overtime pay.
According to the audit, the town's highway superintendent did not always review highway department employees' timecards each pay period for accuracy.
"Due to the lack of oversight, we reviewed the town's payroll records for six months during our audit period to determine if the town's payroll was processed accurately. We found instances where all six highway department employees received benefits in excess of what they were entitled to and instances where four of the six received fewer benefits than they should have. Benefit errors were related to employees' use of leave and compensatory time accruals, as well as the calculation of overtime and compensatory time earned," the audit said.
According to the audit, five employees took a total 86.5 hours off from work, totalling to $1,621. However, the employees did not properly document their time that leave was being used, leading to inaccurate records, the audit said. This has occurred at other times as well, according to the audit.
The audit's recommendations for the town included establishing a written payroll processing policy, reviewing highway department employees' timecards for each pay period, reviewing the payroll records for errors or mistakes and for town officials to review benefit time balance reports for all employees to verify amounts were recorded properly.
According to a letter of response from town Supervisor Robert Sullivan, the town has moved forward in implementing the recommendations made.
Sullivan could not be reached this morning for comment.