Audit: Housing Authority needs guidelines

GLOVERSVILLE – While the New York State Comptrollers Office’s audit of the Gloversville Housing Authority did not uncover any major issues, it did reveal the agency needs to adopt policies to safeguard tenant rent collections and ensure payments for invoices and goods are better vetted.

According to a news release from the agency issued Jan. 15, an audit of the authority covered the period from Oct. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. The audit reviewed the month of Nov. 2014 and looked at 105 tenant rental payments and related fees during the month totaling $30,734.

According to the report, the comptroller’s office assessed the authority’s internal controls over tenant rents and claims processes at the housing authority.

The audit found no major issues with the agency, but did state that the board did not adopt adequate policies for tenant rent collections to ensure payments were safeguarded and payments for invoices and goods could have been better vetted.

However, the auditors found “all tenant rental payments were properly recorded in the accounting system and deposited intact and in a timely manner,” during the time period examined.

For each of the three housing locations, an account clerk is responsible for collecting tenant rent payments recording the payments in the computerized accounting system, printing receipts for tenants from the accounting system, preparing deposit tickets, printing a deposit report from the accounting system and depositing the rent payments in the bank.

The comptroller’s office suggested the housing authority adopt written policies and procedures for the collection of tenant rents and either separate rent collection duties among employees or ensure more oversight of the collection process.

In addition, the comptroller’s office also saw a need for a more through vetting of claims before the authority makes payment.

According to the report, during the audit period of Nov. 2014, the authority paid 1,422 cash disbursements, that totaled approximately $3.5 million for goods or services. Forty-five claims were randomly selected that totaled $185,264 and selected another five claims totaling $3,741. The report states that although no significant discrepancies were found, the authority could be at an increased risk of inappropriate payments or pay for services not rendered, goods not received, or be overcharged without a more through vetting of invoices.

“We reviewed the claims and found that except for minor deficiencies all 50 claims were proper authority expenditures and contained appropriate supporting documentation,” the report states. “Although we did not find any significant discrepancies, without an effective claims audit process, the authority has an increased risk that it could make inappropriate payments to ineligible parties for improper purchases, pay for service not rendered or goods not received or be overcharged for goods and services.”

The Comptroller’s office suggested the housing authority perform an audit of all authority claims prior to payment, or formally appoint someone who is independent of the purchasing process as a claims auditor or a committee to fulfill the claims audit function.

The Housing Authority contains two senior-citizen tower buildings, Forest Hills and Kingsboro, which contain 208 rental units, one low-income family apartment complex, Dubois Gardens, which has 85 units. The authority also oversees about 250 Section 8 housing-choice vouchers, according to the comptroller’s office.

In a letter to the Comptrollers office dated Dec. 31, 2015, The Gloversville Housing Authority said it will be submitting a written corrective action plan by the end of March or early April to the comptroller’s office. The letter states that the housing authority has reviewed a preliminary draft of the audit and agreed with the results and recommendations.

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