State Comptroller finds New Hyde Park fire district fell short on payroll duties

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(Photo courtesy New Hyde Park Fire Department)

The New Hyde Park Fire District failed to implement proper payroll policies and procedures, an audit from the office of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports.

From January 2016 to September 2017, the audit found, that direct supervisors – the Board of Commissioners and Secretary Maria Passariello – did not review timecards in their entirety, approve overtime and failed to document reasons for payroll adjustments.

A representative from the fire department declined to comment on the audit. Efforts to reach the board were unavailing.

Supervisors did not review or approve 79 percent of, or 244 of 309, timecards totaling $171,092 of $182,739 for district office employees, the report said. Although the department’s board certifies each payroll, there is no record of when it occurs on the payroll certification or in board meeting minutes.

An unnamed board commissioner informed the comptroller’s office that the certification could occur prior to or after checks are distributed, the report said.

The lack of a clear payroll certification process can result in inaccuracies going undetected, the report said.

Passariello did not document reasons for adjustments to 151 of 158 payroll hours, 96 percent of the changes, the report said.

Employees do not clock out when they temporarily leave work for personal reasons or if the employees are volunteer firefighters and choose to leave work to answer fire calls, according to Passariello in the report.

Adjustments were made for a variety of reasons including standardizing hours and employees leaving work during work hours.

The report recommended the payroll function be segregated, the establishment of policies and procedures for payroll, the certification of payrolls before distribution and to ensure the supervision of time card procedures for the secretary and direct supervisors.

The report does not indicate any findings of fraud, waste or abuse.

In a resolution adopted Oct. 16, the board established payroll processing and policy procedures deemed appropriate in response to the audit.

The secretary, treasurer, commissioners and the board as a body will review payroll records, resulting in multiple layers of oversight and the recommended segregation, a letter in response to the comptroller’s audit signed by board Chairman Stephen Derenze said.

That change is one of many in the letter, which outlined the board’s corrective action plan addressing the recommendations of the comptroller’s office.

The department has initiated the use of a fingerprint scanning system with identification numbers to replace time card punching.

At least one commissioner will review the finger scan work shift reports of all employees for each pay period and date the review. Additionally, the supervisor will review and document reasons for any adjustments.

 

 

 

 

 

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