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Water Districts Audit Best Practices Seminar

As part of its continuing education initiative, the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners Association (NSWCA), which consists of 21 Long Island water districts including Hicksville Water District, recently hosted a seminar on best practices for addressing a New York State audit. Anthony Sabino, an attorney representing a number of municipal water districts that have navigated through six district audits, including three of which were local water districts, presented interesting facts and insight.

As part of his presentation, Sabino explained that elected officials are ultimately responsible for the financial health of their respective district and the compliance of their office. He also discussed proper procedures, protocols and resolutions that officials can use for not only addressing the rigors of a New York State audit but also improve their business management practices.

In reviewing procedures, Sabino indicated that all aspects regarding expenditure of funds and fund management should be codified, resolved and in force, which includes administrative access, computerized records, staff hours and overtime, as well as cost-benefit analyses of district vehicles. He also discussed how procurement of professional services and time management by officials are additional areas of expenditure subject to review and scrutiny and offered actual examples that focused on length of detail, recording of actions and resolutions for procedures, along with protocols for the reception of the auditor, assistance to the auditor, and the handling of informational requests.

Robert McEvoy, Oyster Bay Water Commissioner and Oyster Bay Town Comptroller, emphasized, “As government officials, we are managing the taxpayer’s money. Our priority is not to profit but to faithfully adhere to the standardized policies and procedures for the usage of public funds.”

Municipal audits, whether full or sample audits, are randomly timed. For example, 30 years can elapse between audits, and at other times, audits might be performed in consecutive years.