Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
December 3, 2013 Issue
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Eli Ruiz | Democrat

The Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library in Monticello was criticized in a state audit and has taken steps to follow the report’s recommendations.

Crawford Library responds to state audit

Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — November 12, 2013 — A NYS Comptroller’s Office audit of the Crawford Library in Monticello, released this past week, revealed that the library’s board had not been checking over $1 million in non-payroll-related payments over the course of two years.
Auditors reviewed all the library’s bank statements and cancelled checks between November 1, 2011 and April 30, 2013 and found the board had not audited any of the 767 non-payroll disbursements, totalling $1,157,071.
Neither had the board approved 100 of those disbursements, totalling $96,586. And of those 100, auditors said 13 did not have adequate documentation showing they were for legitimate purposes.
As a result, auditors also selected nine board-approved non-payroll payments to library employees, totalling $2,379, determining that three either lacked documentation or were for higher amounts than what was actually owed.
Additionally, auditors faulted the library for allowing two vendors to electronically deduct nearly $500,000 from the library’s checking account. While the deductions were for valid expenses, such a process is illegal under NYS’ General Municipal Law.
Finally, $89,000 was spent on a public works contract that was not competitively bid out, also a violation of state law.
“There is no assurance that the amount paid was the most prudent and economical use of taxpayer moneys,” auditors wrote.
“Most of these deficiencies occurred because the bookkeeper performed most aspects of the cash disbursements process, including preparing the monthly claims warrants, printing the checks, and preparing the bank reconciliations, with little oversight by the board,” they concluded.
They recommended:
• The board conduct a thorough audit of all claims prior to approving them for payment
• The board ensure that no vendor can initiate electronic transfers of funds from the library’s checking account
• The board segregate the duties of the disbursements process
• The bookkeeper provide all claims to the board for review
• The board ensure that someone other than the bookkeeper verifies all payments are approved by the board and that cancelled checks agree with board-approved warrants
• The board ensure that public works contracts are competitively bid out
Library responds
Library Director Mary Paige Lang-Clouse replied to the audit (contained in the state’s report) and said immediate action was taken on all the recommendations.
That includes the creation of a “Disbursements Approval Form” to accompany the documentation for each payment, plus a new Audit Committee composed of board members.
The board will now sign off on every payment, while vendor-initiated payments have been stopped.
Staff-issued debit cards have been destroyed, while Lang-Clouse herself is reviewing each bank statement before it is sent to the bookkeeper.
She also promised that any future projects requiring bidding will follow state law.

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