The New York State Comptroller's office audited the Village of Mineola for the period of June 1, 2000 to December 31, 2001 in order to test for significant instances of non-compliance with fiscally related laws, rules and regulations. The audit attempted to address whether the village has adequate policies and procedures related to purchasing practices and whether the village had adequate policies and procedures to ensure that claim vouchers were processed properly.
The executive summary of the State Comptroller's Examination Report stated that "The village's purchasing policies and procedures were not always adequate to ensure that bids were awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. In addition, documentation was not retained to show that the village solicited quotations in accordance with its procurement policy."
Furthermore, the state's audit report stated, "The village's policies and procedures were not adequate to ensure that claims were processed properly. Our examination disclosed that 11 of the 20 claim vouchers for purchases of goods and services were supported by purchase orders that were issued after the goods and services had been received."
The audit pointed to an instance that occurred on November 14, 2001 in which the village advertised for bids for the purchase of a dump truck. During December 19, 2001 to January 10, 2002, an addendum to the bid specifications was sent to two prospective bidders to clarify the specifications with regard to the color of the vehicle. It was determined that the color was no longer available as a standard option and the truck had to be repainted at an additional cost before delivery. The addendum did not specify if the village would finance the cost of repainting. As a result, the vendor that submitted the lowest proposal at $39,696 withdrew their bid since they believed that it was their responsibility to finance the cost of the painting. The village then awarded the contract to the bid of $40,938.
Section 103 of the General Municipal Law provides that, with certain exceptions, purchase contracts in excess of $10,000 should be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The State Comptroller recommended to the village that bid advertisements that solely stipulate the product of a particular manufacturer should be avoided since such provisions tend to restrict competition and should not be included in bid specifications. The report stated that village should satisfy purchasing needs at the lowest possible cost. The state also recommended that if the village desires to standardize on the purchase of light duty trucks, it would adopt a resolution that includes a full explanation of the reasons there is a need for standardization to achieve efficiency or economy.
The state also made recommendations with regard to claim vouchers paid during the period of June 1, 2000 through December 31, 2001. The state examined 20 claims approved for payment and discovered 11 of the 20 for purchases of goods and services were supported by purchase orders that were issued after the goods or services were received. According to the state comptroller, the inherent benefits of a purchase order system can only be derived if purchase orders are prepared, approved and issued prior to the acquisition of goods and services.
In a letter from Mineola Mayor John P. Colbert to the Office of the State Comptroller, the mayor said the village would implement the suggestions made by the state comptroller. In the case of the dump truck bids, the mayor said there were extenuating circumstances regarding the standardized color of village vehicles, but the village would take the recommendation of the comptroller's office and would "endeavor, whenever possible, to publish generic specifications for equipment or goods which are subject to the bidding process."
In the case of confirming purchasing, Mayor Colbert wrote to the state comptroller that the Village Auditor shall be specifically responsible for policing and supervising the policy of securing an approved purchase order prior to the ordering of goods and services, except in emergency circumstances where regulations permit an exemption from this policy.