Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — An accounting firm will be coming to 1 Locks Plaza to determine if a consultant or additional staff is needed in the city Treasurer’s Office, in light of the state audit that said inaccurate financial reporting was key in Lockport’s moderate fiscal stress label.
The Williamsville-based firm, Bonadio Group, was hired for $7,000 by the Common Council Tuesday.
“We’re attempting to find out why the bank statements, closings and reconciliations weren’t done in a timely manner,” Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano told Council members.
Inaccurate financial reporting by the treasurer’s office for 2012 was cited by the state Comptroller’s Office as contributing to the city’s fiscal stress. White said in December part of the problem was that his office suffered a hit in personnel with cuts and rapid turnover in 2011. A major illness left an accounting position open for two years.
Common Council President Anne E. McCaffrey said Bonadio will figure out if the Treasurer’s Office needs a third-party firm or more personnel. Following the audit report, Treasurer Michael White asked the Common Council to let him hire an experienced, third-party consultant to help straighten the numbers out.
The Comptroller’s Office is sending auditors back to Lockport to check on the city’s internal financial controls.
In other business, the Council pulled a resolution to hire Computel Consultants to look at whether or not the city has been collecting the revenue it is entitled to from its gross sales tax on utility companies.
Lockport has a 1 percent tax on the gross sales within the city limits. But it’s unknown how much of the revenue has been collected.
Computel has partnered with the New York Conference of Mayors to offer a utility saving audit for cities. The company would perform the audit for a fee of 40 percent of the extra money the audit might bring in. According to the resolution, if no refund is secured for the city, then there is no charge for the service.
Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, 4th Ward, said he received an email from another firm that would do the work for a smaller percentage of the refund. The resolution was pulled so officials could review the offer.
Common Council members also extended an agreement with Niagara County concerning a tax exemption for a 13-mile city water line.
The line runs through a number of municipalities to get to the Summit Street water filtration plant.
Originally passed by county lawmakers on June 17, 2008, the agreement gives the city a 100 percent tax exemption for five years. It was conditional on the city using the savings to set up a fund to pay for repairs or improvements needed for city water lines.
The extension still needs approval from the Niagara County Legislature.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.