Auditors stirred up trouble in town: official

JOHNSTOWN – An audit by the state Comptroller’s Office has not gone over well with town Supervisor Nancy MacVean.

An audit covering payroll for 2013’s calender year in the town, officially released Friday, found several discrepancies in payroll records and overtime. The board has been dealing with the results of the audit since early this year, when it altered its policy regarding overtime pay.

MacVean said in the response to the audit that the town followed the suggestions from the comptroller’s office. She also commented on how the audit was conducted, along with its results for the town so far.

“It’s been a real joy having you guys here. You took files from each office, threw them in boxes and buried them in the records room. We are still looking for a lot of files that were not returned to the correct offices. You also managed to start a war with the highway department and the town board. They are now starting a union at the Highway Department, don’t trust the Town Board and basically hate us. Thanks so much for coming. I really look forward to your next visit,” MacVean’s response said.

The comptroller’s office said town officials told them the records room was not organized and any records would be provided.

“As a result, we never entered the records room and all records were provided to us by town officials, which we subsequently returned,” the audit said.

MacVean said this morning she was agitated with the Comptroller’s Office. The auditors could not find a major problem with the town’s records, she said, so they focused on a “very minor” problem.

“They stirred up a lot of trouble between the Highway Department and the Town Board,” MacVean said.

The board discussed the audit early this year, before it was released, over the course of several meetings. Officials previously said the audit discovered members of the Highway Department would use sick time or vacation time in the same weeks they would receive overtime pay.

The audit cites 10 highway employees, who each received 16 hours of paid holiday leave for Thanksgiving and the following day, which was also included as time worked.

“These employees received inappropriate overtime pay for 151 work hours that should have been paid at their regular pay rate, resulting in an overpayment totaling $1,390,” the audit said.

Prior to retirement, two former highway employees were allowed to use 1,240 sick leave hours valued at more than $24,000, including 136 hours of paid sick leave to which they were not entitled.

The audit recommended the town enforce its overtime policy, keep better track of timesheets, review all payrolls and make sure paid-leave time is not used towards overtime pay.

The board approved an updated overtime policy at February’s meeting. The board altered the town’s policy to only allow overtime pay after 40 hours have been worked in a week.

In April, Jack Smullen, a member of the Highway Department, said those employees were seeking to join the United Public Service Employees Union, but said unionizing was not related to the changes in town policy.

Smullen said this morning Philip Sedlock – a representative of the UPSEU – was currently in discussions with town officials about recognizing the union, but no decision has been made.