An audit of the Town of Sweden Justice Court by the New York State Comptroller has found numerous errors in the handling of money and other issues. The report was issued on February 20, 2015.
According to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s Report, the Sweden Town Justices do not provide adequate oversight of court operations, and the court does not ensure accurate and complete collection, deposit, recording and reporting of court moneys in a timely manner.
DiNapoli said the justices need to assign clerks separate duties in order to regularly review accounting records and bank statements. “In today’s fiscal climate, budget transparency and accountability for our local communities is a top priority. By auditing municipal finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively.”
You can read the entire audit report online on the NYS Comptroller’s website.
The Comptroller’s audit found fault with the Sweden Town Court in four different areas:
- “The Justices do not provide adequate oversight of Court operations to ensure the accurate and complete collection, deposit, recording and reporting of Court moneys in a timely manner.”
- “The Justices have not adequately segregated the duties of the clerks and do not regularly review accounting records, bank statements, or monthly reconciliations and accountability analyses.”
- “Although the Court issues computerized receipts, the receipt numbers, dates and amounts can be altered or deleted in the computer system and the Justices do not review system activity as a compensating control. Further, 71 receipts2 were not deposited within 72 hours of receipt and various receipts or transactions were deleted from the system without a valid documented reason.”
- “Finally, the Justices have not developed a policy or procedures to enforce the collection of unpaid fines and fees. As a result, 34 unpaid tickets were not submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) scofflaw program and five tickets were incorrectly reported as disposed of to the DMV. Due to internal control weaknesses, it is impossible for the Justices to hold any clerks responsible for any errors, deficiencies or fraudulent or abusive activities that may occur, and the Court is not collecting all potential revenue.”
During 2013, the Sweden Justice Court collected approximately $414,000 in fines and surcharges. For 2013, the Sweden Justice Court was ranked 144th in revenues collected of all municipal courts in New York State and is the seventh largest in Monroe County.
The New York State Comptroller made ten recommendation changes that the Sweden Justice Court should make.
The Justices should:
- Ensure that the Court clerks’ duties are adequately segregated. Where it is not practical to segregate duties, the Justices should provide additional oversight as a mitigating control.
- Receive and review bank statements and canceled check images directly from the bank.
- Review bank statements, bank reconciliations and accountability analyses and the court’s accounting records on a regular basis for timeliness and accuracy. Justices should ensure that any differences are investigated and, if necessary, take corrective action.
- Further research the remaining unaccounted for balance in Justice Depferd’s account and, if unresolved, remit the unaccounted for funds to the JCF or the Supervisor as appropriate.
- Require the use of manual press-numbered duplicate receipts or work with the software vendor to correct system deficiencies that allow receipts to be altered or deleted.
- Ensure that the clerks use the available field in the computerized system to record the method of payment for receipts.
- Review an audit log from the accounting system as a means of determining, on a routine basis, who is accessing the system and what transactions are being processed, changed or deleted.
- Ensure all collections are deposited within 72 hours.
- Ensure all traffic tickets that are unresolved after 60 days are reported to the DMV for scofflaw.
- Develop a policy and procedures to ensure that collections are enforced by Court personnel.
The Sweden Town Board has the responsibility to initiate corrective action.
A written corrective action plan (CAP) that addresses the findings and recommendations in this report must be prepared and forwarded to the NYS Comptroller’s Office within 90 days of the audit, pursuant to Section 35 of the General Municipal Law.
That means the Sweden Town Council has until May21, 2015 to file their corrective action plan with the NYS Comptroller’s Office.
Brockport residents didn’t need an audit of the Town of Sweden Justice Court by the New York State Comptroller to know that something was wrong with the Town of Sweden Justice Court.
But maybe now, the people who complain about the formation of the Brockport Village Court will start to understand.
The management of the Town of Sweden Justice Court was incompetent, and the audit of the Town of Sweden Justice Court by the New York State Comptroller confirms that beyond a shadow of a doubt.