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Audit finds weak spots in Manlius

An audit by the State Comptroller's Office found that the town of Manlius paid more than $100,000 in "inappropriate" benefit expenses for town officials without documented board approval.

The report identified approximately $80,000 in health insurance benefits paid to 11 part-time employees, including the town supervisor, four board members, two justices and the receiver of taxes, and more than $23,000 in leave time for town officers, employees and retirees.

The Town Employee Handbook, last updated in 1996, defines that only full-time employees, working 30 hours per week or more, should receive benefits. Supervisor Mark Tetley said the problem was that no one could locate the formal board resolutions that would allow the part-time benefits.

"These practices have been in place for 20 years or more, whether or not they were written down. It wasn't like nobody knew about it," Tetley said.

The audit covers the years 2006-07 and began earlier this year, shortly before Tetley took office Jan. 1.

The town manager and the town board have taken initiative to complete the several-year project to rewrite the town handbook and to more clearly define the areas in question. Tetley said the board should be able to approve the updated handbook by its next meeting on Dec. 10.

The audit addressed several other areas including payroll duties and procurement policies, and it gave recommendations for improving operations and strategies to reduce costs, while strengthening controls to safeguard local government assets.

Tetley said that when the former payroll clerk moved away, the town addressed the problem of weakness in internal controls over the segregation of payroll duties, which the report stated runs the "risk of errors, fraud and professional misconduct." The town has since hired an outside payroll service, so that employees have only to submit a time sheet each week.

"It makes everybody's lives a lot easier--and more accurate," Tetley said.

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