Audit Identifies Gas Credit Card Lax in Cortlandt

Cortlandt needs to implement better procedures for employees who are going to charge their gas to a town credit card.
Cortlandt needs to implement better procedures for employees who are going to charge their gas to a town credit card.

By Rick Pezzullo

The Town of Cortlandt is in the process of finalizing a policy for purchasing gasoline with credit cards for town vehicles following an audit by the state Office of the State Comptroller.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” said Cortlandt Town Comptroller Glenn Cestaro. “It was nothing extreme or severe. We adopted a resolution to revamp the whole policy.”

Representatives for State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reviewed Cortlandt’s books and procedures from January 2010 to April 2011. The last time the town was audited by the state was 10 years ago.

While most of Cortlandt’s finances and policies passed the state’s muster, the comptroller’s office determined the town board did not establish policies and procedures governing the use of approximately 100 gasoline credit cards that have been issued for about 25 town vehicles.

In addition, the comptroller stated the town had no formal process for opening and closing accounts and did not require employees to submit gasoline receipts.

“As a result, there is limited assurance that the $86,455 in gasoline purchases made by town employees and officials were for proper town purposes,” the comptroller stated in the audit report.

Meanwhile, the comptroller also concluded there were no safeguards in place to adequately monitor the town’s diesel fuel inventory since “no records were maintained to show the amount of fuel in the tanks at any given time.”

“Not all the drivers were filling out tickets when they filled up,” Cestaro said. “They (comptroller) wanted to reconcile better what was delivered and what was used.”

In a Dec. 19, 2011 letter to the comptroller’s office, Supervisor Linda Puglisi stated “the Town Board and I concur with your findings” and noted how the board had directed Cestaro and Jeff Coleman, director of the Department of Environmental Services, to develop a formal policy.

Cestaro said one of the steps that will likely be taken is recalling all the credit cards issued to employees and then reissuing them. The Purchasing Department will be responsible for issuing the cards and Coleman will be responsible for overseeing the usage. Cestaro said town officials are also discussing whether to have one credit card assigned to a particular vehicle or continue to have certain employees designated with cards.

“You can’t go to the gas station and buy gasoline and Twinkies,” Cestaro remarked. “You can only buy gasoline.”

Only a few town employees are permitted to bring a town vehicle home, including Puglisi and a water foreman.

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