SHERMAN – An investigation is ongoing into approximately $20,000 in missing deposits in the village of Sherman from July 1, 2012 to August 3, 2016.
The missing money was found during an audit by the state comptroller’s office. According to the audit, the former village treasurer did not deposit more than $20,000 in registered property taxes, water, sewer and general fund receipts. The audit is also critical that the Sherman Village Council and village officials have not established adequate written policies and procedures for collecting money in the Sherman Village and the council has not ensured adequate supervision of the treasurer, including the annual audit of the former treasurer’s files. and reports.
“The Village of Sherman has been in regular contact with insurance agencies regarding the situation,” Colleen Meeder, mayor of the village, wrote in a response to Melissa Meyers, chief examiner for the regional comptroller’s office in Buffalo. “Village property taxes were the main area where funds were lacking. During the period audited by NYSOSC, the Village did not have the position of bonded collector and the insurance policy excluded the tax collector from employee theft coverage under the general criminal policy. However, the village will make a formal investigation of undeposited water and sewer funds.
“The Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office is investigating criminal charges. Bringing charges against the clerk/treasurer involved has been difficult due to COVID delays and the out-of-state residency of the former clerk/treasurer.
Auditors recommended taking appropriate steps to recover missing money, developing written policies and establishing procedures for cash receipts, and providing adequate oversight and annual audits of village treasurer’s reports and records. .
Auditors found $8,113 in collection receipts for water and sewer receipts that were recorded in customer accounts but never deposited in village bank accounts, all collected while the former treasurer was in function. Auditors found an additional $12,000 in property tax collections recorded in the county system but not filed or recorded in the village system.
“This $20,357 cash shortfall went undetected because the former treasurer controlled all phases of the cash receipt collection process without proper oversight,” listeners wrote. “The former treasurer had the ability to manipulate the files and only bring back selected items. She printed collection reports with each deposit that only included receipts for the amount of deposits she had prepared. We also found that printed receipts were messy, often misordered by date, or not attached with deposit information. We could not find printed receipts (or payment stubs) for three water and sewer receipts totaling $480 and 11 property tax receipts totaling $4,666 on file.
Auditors noted that former village officials and board members had not conducted audits, which could have detected money that had not been deposited. The audit was less critical of current village officials, noting that the council and mayor are more active in oversight duties and are in the process of creating written policies and procedures for collecting cash receipts as well as fulfill the annual audit requirements.