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Comptroller's audit is critical of Broadalbin highway hours

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - Updated: 10:11 AM

By CAROLINE MURRAY

caroline.murray@recordernews.com

BROADALBIN -- A year-long audit conducted by the New York State Comptroller's Office has found issues with how town officials are monitoring highway employees' work hours and paid time off.

Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report Wednesday stating the town board has not developed a system to keep track of highway department employee leave accruals, both earned and used.

According to the report, Broadalbin's highway workers maintain their own leave records, including leave balances, time earned and time used.

The report says the board is "responsible for developing a system to ensure leave accruals earned and used by employees are adequately accounted for," and the town currently does not have an efficient system in place.

The audit was conducted from January 2012 to December of last year. However, the report says records are missing from Jan. 1 to July 23, 2012.

As a result, auditors only reviewed 151 time sheets submitted by the four full-time highway department employees, between July 24, 2012, and Dec. 13, 2013.

During the time of the audit, former supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo was in office. Currently, Supervisor Thomas Christopher and highway Superintendent Lance Winney are in charge of overseeing the department.

"I am not going to point any fingers at anyone," Christopher said. "It was just a matter of not having any policies in place to correctly run a shop like that."

Christopher said town officials reviewed the preliminary audit a month ago. He said they have already begun to write procedures and policies to correct the situation.

Councilman Larry Ruzycky said the board is new, and the highway department has operated under the criticized procedures for a long time.

"We just found out this is not the appropriate way to do it," Ruzycky said.

The report found that town officials do not manage or oversee highway employees' work hours or paid time off.

Auditors said Broadalbin's highway workers do not utilize the town's computerized time clock, despite a 2011 resolution authorizing them to do so.

Instead, highway department employees keep track of their hours and overtime manually, on bi-weekly time sheets.

Additionally, the report says there are no written policies or procedures in place, which properly maintain leave records of employees who request time off. Likewise, there are no policies or procedures, to keep track of the employees paid time off, both earned and already used.

The comptroller's report says the superintendent keeps a record of leave time for each employee. However, the records do not contain a running balance of leave accruals or a running balance of unused leave accruals for vacation, illness and personal use.

The department calculated leave accruals earned, used and unused according to the highway department's time sheets, and found several errors.

According to the report, all four employees recorded sick leave time for a paid holiday and used holiday leave time on a regularly scheduled work day.

Another employee missed a whole week of work, and never requested time off from the superintendent. Additionally, the audit found one worker's sick leave balance was overestimated by 30 hours, or by $657. Another used an additional 19.5 hours of personal leave time, valued at $410.

Christopher does not believe these miscalculations were made intentionally by any highway employee.

"I think for a lack of proper accounting proper procedure, mistakes were made," he said.

According to the report, town officials are responsible for creating a corrective action plan addressing the department's findings and recommendations. The plan should be sent to the comptroller's office within 90 days of receiving the report.

Christopher said he sent a letter to the comptroller's office with the plan in place.

The letter was outlined in the report.

Christopher said the town will develop a leave policy with specific guidelines and employees will have to seek approval for paid time off. He also said the time clock will be utilized and updated.

Further, Christopher said time sheets will be signed by both the employee and superintendent, and compensation will be maintained the same as other paid leave.

"The actual actions will be finished within a week or so, it will have to go for board approval," Christopher said.

     

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