An audit by the state comptroller’s office has found Crown Point town clerk Linda Woods did not collect fees and make bank deposits in a timely fashion. The audit also criticized the town board for not monitoring Woods’ activities.
The Crown Point town clerk has been rebuked by the state.
An audit by the state comptroller’s office has found town clerk Linda Woods did not collect fees and make bank deposits in a timely fashion. The audit also criticized the town board for not monitoring Woods’ activities.
“The clerk did not collect Monitor Bay Campsite rents in accordance with town policy or deposit all clerk fees, licenses, and water and sewer collections within three business days after the total exceeded $250,” the audit finds. “In addition, she did not record or deposit real property taxes timely or remit them to the supervisor in accordance with legal requirements.
“Finally, the board did not audit the clerk’s records,” the audit continues. “As a result, taxpayers cannot be assured that all money collected by the clerk has been properly deposited and recorded and appropriately remitted.”
Woods said the audit findings all relate to technical procedures. All money handled by the her office has been accounted for, she stressed.
“This is all about their (state) procedures and timeliness,” Woods said. “I do my best to follow their procedures, but this is a small office with limited resources. I’ll keep trying to follow their recommendations.”
Woods pointed out she is running for re-election this November. She wondered if the audit was politically motivated.
The audit found that while town policy requires all Monitor Bay camping fees be paid in two installments, Woods accepted partial payments. She also did not have signed contracts for seasonal campers on file.
“Because the clerk did not maintain complete accounting records, it was difficult for her to adequately and effectively track payments and ensure that the campsite fees were paid timely and in full,” the audit reads. “The lack of adequate records kept on file for the seasonal rental of the sites may result in errors and irregularities occurring and not being detected in a timely manner and may also result in the loss of revenue for the town.”
Woods said she accepted partial payments to help campers.
“Most of them (campers) are on fixed incomes, so I accepted what they could pay at the time,” Woods said. “I thought I was helping out.”
Since the release of the audit the town board has changed responsibility for collection of campsite fees. Those payments are now made to the supervisor’s clerk.
The audit also found Woods did not properly record the receipts for tax collections and did not deposit tax collections in a timely fashion.
“This is a small office; I’m just one person,” Woods said. “At tax time it gets crazy in here. It’s very difficult to keep up. I did my best. I’ll continue to do my best.”
Woods was also criticized for her record keeping and failing to deposit fees from licenses, dog licenses, campsite fees and other money in a timely fashion.
“The clerk’s failure to ensure that taxes, fees and rents are recorded and deposited accurately and timely may result in errors and irregularities occurring and not being detected and corrected in a timely manner,” according to the audit.
Woods said all the findings relate to “procedures.”
This is not the first time Woods has been criticized by state officials.
“The clerk told us that, despite having held her position for approximately 25 years, she was not aware of the legal requirements for remitting the tax collections in a timely manner,” the audit reads. “The clerk has been in office for approximately 25 years. Previous audit reports that our office issued in 2000 and in 1993 contained findings similar to those addressed in this report about the same clerk. The board’s failure to correct the deficiencies in our prior two audit reports resulted in continuing problems for properly accounting for town moneys.”
Woods said that after each audit she has made changes in her office and done her best to follow the state recommendations. She’ll do so again.
“I’ll do the best I can to follow their recommendations,” Woods said.
In the town’s official response to the comptroller’s office, Supervisor Bethany Kosmider said the town board will pay closer attention to the town clerk in the future.
Kosmider said the town board has requested that Woods provide the supervisor with a weekly report of all receipts and deposits. The board has also agreed to review the activities of the clerk’s office on a monthly basis and has asked for a full audit of the town clerk’s office for the past year.
The state audit looked at the clerk’s office from Jan. 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.