Audit: Greenport Village did poor job handling cash receipts

02/15/2011 3:41 PM |

Greenport village officials were remiss in handling cash receipts at both the Mitchell Park ice rink and McCann Campgrounds on Moore’s Lane during the period from June 1, 2008, to Nov. 9, 2009, according state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Mayor David Nyce, who asked for the special audit more than a year ago, released the state report on Monday.

It confirms what some critics have been hinting: The village lacked proper fiscal controls for its recreation department during the period Mr. DiNapoli’s office reviewed and beyond.

The report found that the village had no policy to make sure bids were sought for professional and technical services and that it didn’t use formal RFPs (requests for proposals) when it needed to hire professionals. The lack of bidding could have meant the village paid “more than necessary for services,” according to the report.

Also, there was no policy to require written contracts with all service providers to spell out both the cost and scope of work to be performed.

Among other problems, the comptroller’s office found there was no formal procedure to review bills before they were paid, and there were inadequate safeguards to protect and secure computerized records.

The auditors also found evidence that problems persisted weeks after the time-frame they were reviewing. During one three-week period in January 2010, which the auditors examined for comparison, nearly $1,000 more was collected at the skating rink than was deposited in village accounts.

The audit found no system for the recreation director to count cash from rink admissions in the presence of a cashier and post the daily collection or to reconcile cash with register receipts.

Nor was there any oversight when the director put cash “in her pocket without counting and recording the amount,” the auditors found, and sometimes didn’t bring that money to Village Hall until the following day or, in some cases, several days later.

“The director had significant amounts of village cash in her possession for extended periods of time,” the report says.

“We found that cash received at the village’s ice rink and campground was not safeguarded, deposited timely or properly reconciled because the board did not develop written policies and procedures for controlling and accounting for cash,” the state auditors wrote in the report’s executive summary. The result was that the village had no assurance that it received all cash collected, the auditors found.

Former village recreation director Linda Ortiz, who is now director of Community Action Southold Town, denied any improprieties.

She said she called many times for changing the way cash was handled at the ice rink. She also asked for an overnight bank drop and approval for the use of credit cards instead of cash for admissions, she said.

“I blame management; I told them so many times,” Ms. Ortiz said. She never held receipts for longer than a few days, she said, and that was only because of holiday weekends when Village Hall was closed and she had no authority to deposit funds into village bank accounts.

Because staffing was tight at the ice rink, she said, there could be confusion on busy holiday weekends in comparing receipts with register tapes because large numbers of people sometimes came in at once and some decided not to skate, necessitating refunds that may not have been properly recorded, she said.

“The ice rink was my baby and it was my moment to shine,” she said of efforts to increase its revenues. “My reputation to me is a very big thing,” she said.

Mr. Nyce said he had every confidence in the job Ms. Ortiz did for the village, consistently going above and beyond what her job required.

The auditors found similar problems in the handling of cash at McCann Campgrounds. One practice — bartering with the manager for a free campsite in return for management services — will change, according to the mayor. The barter can still take place, but the value of the barter will have to be given on a 1099 tax form for manager to file with the IRS.

The February 2011 report incorporates a response from the Village Board detailing how it would implement auditors’ recommendations for improving its fiscal procedures. Mayor David Nyce said many of the steps had been taken already and others were in the process of being implemented.

“We were anxious to have the auditors come in,” Mr. Nyce said, explaining that he had needed a review of financial matters to guide him when he took office in April 2007.

Mr. Nyce has said he asked for the audit because he was unsure how finances had been handled by his longtime predecessor Dave Kapell, who served from 1994 to 2007, when he chose not to seek re-election.

During his administration, the mayor has overseen three village treasurers. When longtime treasurer Steven Brautigam resigned in 2008, the Village Board appointed Susan Pisano as a part-time treasurer. Her tenure was marked by complaints from some board members about her handling of the job and complaints from her that the board failed to respond to her requests for more training. Then, in June 2010, the board named former Southampton Town comptroller and Brookhaven finance commissioner Charlene Kagel treasurer.

With that transition, there has been greater emphasis on segregating responsibilities to provide checks and balances in handling both cash and check receipts, deposits and payments, according to Mr. Nyce.

The village has three months in which to report back to the comptroller on its steps to rectify the problems identified in the report.

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27 Comment

  • “In one three-week period in January 2010, which the auditors examined for comparison, nearly $1,000 more was collected at the skating rink than was deposited in village accounts.”
    “Mr. Nyce has said he asked for the audit because he was unsure how finances had been handled by his long-time predecessor, Dave Kapell, who served from 1994 to 2007″

    So, where is the $1000 dollars? Hey David next time I’m guessing you will be a little more careful of what you ask for, unless of course you don’t feel this audit reflects on you.

  • Now there’s a big surprise Linda Ortiz and Julie Lane in cahoots ?

  • And that was only one week and a 1,000 was missing imagine how much actually was “put in her pocket”? The woman who ran the Trailer Park went to jail for stealing from the church and guess who’s friend she was and I believe got her the job at McCann…..ok, ok , I’ll ya a hint LO, yes sir Linda Ortiz.

  • In the spirit of disclosure and transparency at work sessions I would have thought the results of the states audit of the rec dept.would have been discussed, when the board was questioned by a resident about the content, he was told “it would be available at Village Hall the next day and he should just get it there”.
    Also, as to the audit, why did the Suffolk Times edit this article after it was posted online? To remove a quote that perhaps is unflattering or embarrassing, to the current administration seems a little like journalistic bias, if the Mayor was misquoted maybe the reporter should have mentioned that instead of deleting it. To filter news because of friendship or partisan leaning is just not fair to readers.

  • If ever there was a need for an investigation it would be now. Especially with the connection with the Parish Out Reach thief, isn’t she now running CAST? I think there are enough “coincidences” to warrant looking into!

  • There was system in place when Nyce took office. Her name was Marge Stevens and her job was handling and safe guarding all the cash brought in. She balanced the cash registers for all village recreation and marina entities. She made professional timely deposits in the bank and no one ever put a penny in their pocket while she was in charge! She was fired because Nyce thought she didn’t do anything important and she wasn’t worth the cost of the health insurance and most important his pal, the rec director, didn’t like her!

  • tsk tsk Linda Ortiz. Hope you’re not planning to steal from the poor now that you are the new CAST director. You know what happened to the LAST person in Greenport who did that. She’s still serving time.

  • Don’t forget to look at Abatelli too.

  • Linda Ortiz is now the “trusted servant” directing Community Action Southold Town. The community needs to think long and hard about where they chose to offer their financial support. Between Ms. Ortiz’s trust issues and Mrs. Murphy’s reported abuse, it’s a wonder any good comes out of that agency. Greenport needs an intervention or an annihilation, beginning with the Mr. Nyce, who is anything but “nice”. And don’t for a mintue think Mr. Horton is the answer. More arrogance, nepotism and control is the last thing that town needs.

  • Someone needs to look closely at how Ortiz bartered with Spanish families who couldn’t pay for the camp or after school program. When the could pay it was always in cash and when they couldn’t, they paid in services…like maybe painting her house? It’s easy to figure out there must be records of how many kids we’re registered and multiply by amount charged and how much was put in bank….I bet there will be money missing…

  • Linda is now doing the same thing at CAST. I hear one of Linda’s new CAST programs is a “salon” in the evening, where a Latino woman gives “free” makeovers in leiu of a donation to CAST. To me it’s no different than slavery. Linda makes the Latino population feel like illegal immigrants; the exact stigma they are trying to escape. At least pay the damn woman for her services.

  • No wonder she retired in a hurry last spring and I think they gave her full benefits on top of what she put in her pockets. She is a deal maker, do her favor and she do one for you in return at someone elses expense! I hope they throw the book at her!

  • if you printed the headlines in something larger than 64 font you could make this a bigger deal than it is.

  • I love a coincidence…just weeks before the election and pop goes this weasel story. Who ever thought village politics could make True Grit look like Ozzie and Harriet.

  • Do you honestly believe the State of NY’s auditor is a party to Village of Greenport politics? Or perhaps you believe the misappropriation, misplacing, stealing, not accounting for, (or any other phrase) of a potentially large amount of village funds is not really a big deal. “Weasel Story”, “Bigger deal than it really is” I guess we know what side of the fence you’re on with this story.

  • The comments here are pretty amazing. Under normal circumstances any number of people could find their way into the civil courtroom for slander and libel. Just saying.

  • The comments here are pretty amazing. Under normal circumstances any number of people could find their way into the civil courtroom for slander and libel. Just saying.

  • The comments here are pretty amazing. Under normal circumstances any number of people could find their way into the civil courtroom for slander and libel. Just saying.

  • I agree with SOME of what you say – but a person can volunteer and make a contribution of services, which is apparently the situation here. ie., 2 people taught computer classes for nothing – that was not looked at as slavery

  • there is nothing lawsuit worthy here – simply opinions

  • Sticky Fingers aka Ortiz couldn’t get away with it when there was someone watching her and counting the money EVERYDAY! It was only after Ninny Nyce fired Mrs Stevens who counted and proved every penny in the registers because he didn’t know what she did!
    DUH, now ya know mo! Your campaign manager was taking the dough home!

  • This is a BIG DEAL! Where is the money? If she didn’t “misplace or borrow” it…..what she made 1,000 dollars worth of mistakes every three weeks? Come on no one is that dumb!

  • CAST is, at best, a struggling outdated organization with strained and politicized leadership. Putting Mz. Ortiz in charge is like putting the fox in the hen house.

  • I think this has to be the final nail in Cast’s coffin. Who in their right mind is going to give money to them knowing the director couldn’t balance the cash registers at the rink, a job commonly done by young adults. I’s not my place to say where that money went but she should have had control of the cash and NO money should have ever gone missing!

  • If elected, will Bob’s re-election slogan be – Fore More Years?

  • oh please don’t start campaigning 7/1/11….you will lose my vote!! after labor day is far early enough Bob…