State Audit of City Finances

State Audit of City Finances

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was i born yesterday

Oneida, NY

#1 Jul 28, 2009
Is this a mirage or is there an enourmous amount of cover up going on here. How does THE CITY'S COMPUTER SYSTEM have anything to do with the following state audit? There are 40% of City paychecks disbursed out incorrect and the OD believes the big story here is the City's computers? What gives? I am insulted as a City Voter to think these people believe we are this ignorant. Click the link and read the serious and disturbing truth. Pay careful attention to the Comptroller response and the State's completely different take on the whole City response. http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/cities...
was i born yesterday

Oneida, NY

#2 Jul 28, 2009
Read the section titled real property tax penalties. How many of you have been late in paying your property taxes and were charged fees for being late? According to the State Comptroller, one can only assume City employees changed the dates for friends, family and political supporters to avoid the charging of late fees. And the computer systems being behind a locked door is the most important story here. You must think we voters were all born yesterday. This is disturbing this man is even running for re-election. Mr Newell, an investigation on your part is NEEDED urgently.
sam i am

New York, NY

#3 Jul 28, 2009
you know, I was thinking that Meola was a bad choice and Garro was not even an option... I was wrong. I think Garro is the one we need. He's crazy enough to be honest and actually know what he is doing. Cerminaro is out...
hymie

Manlius, NY

#4 Jul 28, 2009
please dont call newell, he is a bad fart
Sham

Oneida, NY

#5 Jul 28, 2009
sam i am wrote:
you know, I was thinking that Meola was a bad choice and Garro was not even an option... I was wrong. I think Garro is the one we need. He's crazy enough to be honest and actually know what he is doing. Cerminaro is out...
Sam. I could see how you'd want Cerminaro out, but obviously you don't remember that Garro was just a political hack as Hanna's deputy and he left the position in disgrace. Meola may not be squeaky clean, but he seems to be the only member of the Council that is always breaking balls about too much spending. He's got my vote, but I'd sure like to see Frank Vescera take a run for the office. He seems to be relentless.
cream

Fayetteville, NY

#6 Jul 28, 2009
If anyone needs Newell,just ring a dinner bell.

Level 1

Since: May 09

Utica, NY

#7 Jul 28, 2009
Their job was not to discipline employees, it was to point out the root causes of issues in the system.

If the computer issues they outlined were fixed, none of these errors/fraudulent transactions could have occurred in the first place. The issues with the computer system is a major problem - anything short of fixing them will only keep the honest people honest.
cash cow

United States

#8 Jul 29, 2009
saying it is he computer fault is just a easy way to shift blame. there are some disturbing findings in this report. why hasnt the 5200 been recovered. out of a sample of 20, 8 mistakes were found. if there are 1000 employees, 400 mistakes are made. this is the computers making the mistakes. we taxpayers cant be this nieve to believe this BS. there is no accountability with this comptroller. He must go.
corrupt

Brooklyn, NY

#9 Jul 29, 2009
there is no accountability in Utica, period. this report is not suprising, only shining a light on the sad state of affairs here. I love Cerminaro's quote about there aren't written policies but everybody knows the long standing "unwritten" rules. Haha, same ole same ole. its rediculous.
corrupt

Brooklyn, NY

#10 Jul 29, 2009
* Of 250 tax payments between May 6 and May 9 totaling about $163,400,$60,700 of those were back-dated to reflect a date when the payments would not be late.

Cerminaro said the payments are backdated to reflect when they were mailed, but the audit says no control is in place to make sure the date changes are proper.

Perhaps the OD ought to FOIL for those payment records to see just who's payments were backdated to save them the late fees.

“Our office does a great job,” he said.“We catch a lot of mistakes. So at this stage of the game, we’re taking the audit and doing the recommendations and moving on from there.”

Catch a lot of mistakes? If everyone were qualified in that office and there were actually policies and procedures in place there would not be a lot of mistakes to catch. Utica does not need a politician as the comptroller, they need someone with an accounting background as the comptroller. Someone who actually understands GAAP and what not.

But its Utica, and what makes the mose sense is never what actually happens.

Level 1

Since: May 09

Syracuse, NY

#11 Jul 29, 2009
Equate it to leaving your wallet on a park bench for the afternoon. You come back and it's had all the money removed.

The next day you go back and put it on the bench again, full of cash?

You act surprised that someone took the money?

Obviously Utica has been victimized and that should be dealt with, but the report is telling us that management brought that on us by not implementing the right procedures and computer security to prevent it.

Worrying only about the current instance misses the big picture, doesn't it? That being said, they very well might be in the process of determining where that money went and under what circumstances. I'd imagine they would have to figure it all out before you would see it in the OD.
cash cow wrote:
saying it is he computer fault is just a easy way to shift blame. there are some disturbing findings in this report. why hasnt the 5200 been recovered. out of a sample of 20, 8 mistakes were found. if there are 1000 employees, 400 mistakes are made. this is the computers making the mistakes. we taxpayers cant be this nieve to believe this BS. there is no accountability with this comptroller. He must go.
Radar

Rome, NY

#12 Jul 29, 2009
I heard they will shut the city down after this all goes through
warrior

Manlius, NY

#13 Jul 29, 2009
A convicted felon would be a betteer choice? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
Joker

Syracuse, NY

#14 Jul 29, 2009
warrior wrote:
A convicted felon would be a betteer choice? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
Sad and ironic, isn't it.
Barney

Oneida, NY

#15 Jul 29, 2009
warrior wrote:
A convicted felon would be a betteer choice? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
Hey buddy, seems like we have a non-convicted felon in there now! I wonder how long before someone gets the goods on him. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
frank

Manlius, NY

#16 Jul 29, 2009
how can they reelect a man who screwed up things so bad like ceminaro.Is he a mechanic why dont he go back to what he does best..only in yutica stupid italians only know how to vote the name.
stupid is stupid does

Bedminster, NJ

#17 Jul 29, 2009
this cerminaro character is well on his way to felon row. i hear the state attorney general is going in there next to put this bozo to sleep for good.
od reader

United States

#18 Aug 5, 2009
looks like the od editorial board reads topix. keep ip the good work. comptroller cerminaro has been exppsed as chief bs
Mike College

Minoa, NY

#19 Aug 5, 2009
To solve the myriad of problems they have the following must happen.
The Comptroller must have a Bachelors Degree, minimum in Accounting or a similar degree
The Comptroller must be honest
The Comptroller must have a brain
Oh that is not going to happen, the Comptroller is a politician.
From the OD

Oneida, NY

#20 Aug 10, 2009
Observer-Dispatch
Posted Aug 04, 2009 @ 10:09 PM

----------
.AT ISSUE: Leaders must act to fix flaws in procedures that affect fiscal stability.

If you’ve read enough audits from the state Comptroller’s Office, you’ll notice that most of them are predictable in their findings. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office generally points to some minor issues and urges municipalities and school districts to ensure their procedures are as sound as possible.

Some audits, unfortunately, stand out because of the volume of problems they found. That’s the case now in Utica, where both Comptroller Michael Cerminaro and members of the Common Council need to act to improve flawed procedures that impact both money management and computer security.

Among the auditors’ findings:


Eight employees received the wrong amount of pay in 2007-08 (the city’s fiscal year starts in April).
A large chunk of tax payments were improperly backdated to reflect a date when payments would not be late.
The comptroller has failed to develop sufficient policies, procedures and internal controls governing payroll processing, claims processing, wire transfers and cash receipts.
Three employees in the payroll department have full access to payroll records and can change salaries, pay rates or hours worked with minimal oversight. The Comptroller’s Office does not generate audit logs that show all payroll changes.
The Common Council has not adopted policies and procedures to help safeguard Utica’s computer data.“As a result, there is a greater risk that unauthorized users could gain access to the IT (information technology) system and that the city could lose important financial data or suffer a serious interruption to city operations in the event of a disaster.”

Cerminaro, predictably, is minimizing the issues. His two election opponents this fall, Democratic council member Frank Meola and Conservative and Independence Party candidate Rocco Garro, just as predictably, say the problems are serious.

But this isn’t about politics. It’s about ensuring that every last taxpayer dollar is protected and used well. That’s especially important in a city municipal government that employs hundreds and is spending more than $65 million this fiscal year. Without proper oversight, waste and even malfeasance can flourish.

That’s why Cerminaro needs to tell residents very soon just how he’s going to address the auditors’ concerns, ensuring that workers are paid what they really earned, that internal controls are effective and that tax payments are dated properly.

As for the council, it needs to take information technology concerns seriously. Access to city computers needs to be restricted, passwords and other protections need to be in place and data needs to be backed up. Utica cannot continue to operate as if it were stuck in the 1950s. Managing computer systems effectively is a task that can no longer be ignored.

No one likes to be criticized by outsiders. But the comptroller’s audit provides a useful guide to changes Utica needs to make — and make soon.

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