Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Bad Audit for City of Rensselaer

Troy Record: Rensselaer criticized for not following its own rules
A second state audit in a few weeks’ time found that the city does not follow its own procedures for overseeing the expenditure of taxpayer dollars or for putting contracts out to a bid.
The audit claims the city’s own ethics code was broken when it awarded almost $40,000 in no-bid contracts to install and maintain computer systems in City Hall, city court and the police station to a company whose sole proprietor was Rensselaer’s own information technician.
(I overheard last year that Rensselaer's IT Technician actually works full time for another city.)

Times-Union: Financial controls faulted in Rensselaer audit
State comptroller says city paying insurance on cars it disposed of years ago
No required bids were also found for the following purchases:
  • $40,274 for air conditioning and heat pump upgrades in city hall.
  • $41,940 for backup generator purchases for city hall and the police station.
  • $13,237 in unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel purchases. Due to this finding, auditors expanded the scope of the review and found that over several years $238,385 in fuel was purchased from the same vendor, a gas station in the city, without competitive bidding.
It's worrying enough that the City Council could miss, overlook, ignore, or be shielded from these basic financial management issues. But taxpayers are also kept in the dark regarding to the operations of the City and the Council. Rensselaer bought $40K worth of computer equipment over two years, but doesn't maintain a single web page for the City. The City Council agendas and minutes should be online so the public could monitor their financial oversight.

The two audits are available for download here at the New York State Office of the State Comptroller. Three more Rensselaer audits are expected, according to the Record article.

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