The final draft of the state comptroller’s report titled “Ethics and Internal Controls over Purchasing Practices and Computer Use,” concerning the Town of Yorktown was released to the public on Friday, Aug. 12. The report is the result of a year-long audit investigation into the policies of the municipality.
The audit, which covered the period of Jan. 1, 2007, to May 13, 2010, found a number of areas where the town’s procedures or policies were “deficient, particularly with internal controls of the highway superintendent, procurement of goods and services, and credit purchases,” the report stated. “The Board needs to strengthen its oversight of town financial activities and assets.”
The first draft of the report was leaked to the press in June and the focus of the findings surrounded Eric DiBartolo, the Yorktown highway superintendent who also served as the director of labor operation from December 2007 until January 2010. The initial account discussed the questionable practices of the superintendent and potential conflicts of interest.
In the final draft, which included a response from DiBartolo, the auditors acknowledged that while the highway superintendent acted questionable, he was within the parameters of the boundaries he was given. DiBartolo, who as an elected official was allowed to submit a written response to the initial findings,In the end the auditors found the fault to be with the earlier town boards.
The boards had a lax ethics law, a computer policy that was voluntary and inadequate policies and procedures for procurements, according to the findings. The report found “Town officials did not solicit competitive bids or properly bid for purchases from nine vendors totaling about $2 million and paid eight professional service providers more than $3.9 million without seeking competitive proposals or quotes.”
Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel, who requested the financial audit prior to taking office in January 2010, stated that most of the deficiencies or bad practices noted in the report have already been corrected since she took office.“I knew there were procedural problems before I was elected, so I requested an independent audit be done to properly identify what we needed to fix,” Siegel said. “We met regularly with the auditors during the course of their investigation, and so we were able to address the problems as they were identified instead of waiting for the report to be issued. As a result, most of the issues cited have already been corrected with the auditor’s guidance.”
“Walking into to town hall in January of 2010 I knew there were claims of inappropriate actions which needed to be seriously addressed,” Yorktown Councilman and Westchester County Legislator candidate Dr. Terrence Murphy said. “As an elected official, it is our responsibility to ensure all taxpayer dollars are spent and managed in an appropriate manner. Now that Yorktown has been cleaned up we need to do the same thing to the Westchester County Board of Legislators.”
“Many of the findings and recommendations of the state comptroller’s report should be applied to the Westchester Board of Legislators,” Murphy added. “In particular, an atmosphere in which competitive bids are encouraged should be embraced by county lawmakers as well as sound justification and documentation of not awarding projects to the lowest bidder. These are simple common sense policies that have been ushered into Yorktown and now need to be implemented on the county level. It’s simple common sense.”
Siegel also stated that the town will submit a written corrective action plan (CAP) to the comptroller’s office within 90 days as required by General Municipal Law. The CAP will explain how the Town plans to address any remaining issues cited in the report.
Councilman Jim Martorano, who is the senior member on the town board having served for twenty-years, said that he has not read the lasted draft of the report.
Councilman Nick Bianco, who has been on the board since 1996, was unavailable for comment.