Wantagh Fire District audit – mostly good news


New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the results of an audit of the Wantagh Fire District this week that determined that controls on payroll “appear to be adequate and limited risk existed in most of the financial areas we reviewed,” read the report. However, the audit raised concerns about lack of enforcement on maximum vacation and sick leave policy for employees.

The Wantagh Fire District is a district corporation of the state, distinct and separate from the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County. The fire district covers 13 square miles and services approximately 18,000 households and 700 businesses, according to the report. The district’s 2012 expenditures were approximately $6.1 million, funded primarily with real property taxes, grants from local governments and the fire protection contract.

An elected five member Board of Fire Commissioners governs the district. The board is responsible for the district’s overall financial management. The district’s payroll include 10 full-time and six-part time employees.

According to Mr. DiNapoli, internal controls over payroll ensure that district employees were paid only approved salaries and wages.

Although the board adopted a leave accrual policy, the audit found that district officials did not enforce its policy on maximum accumulated leave limits.

Specifically an employee can accrue a maximum of 720 hours of paid vacation time and 1,600 hours of paid sick leave. The audit discovered that four employees exceeded the board-adopted policy. The four employees accrued 3,430 hours of vacation leave and three of these four employees had 1,120 hours of sick leave.

The report also states that “none of these employees received any excessive payment.”

However, “when officials do not enforce the board-adopted policy leave accrual limits there is an increased risk that employees may use or get paid for leave time above the amounts authorized by the policy,” reads the report.

Craig Craft, Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners, wrote to Ira McCracken, Chief Examiner for the Division of Local Government and School Accountability that the “Board of Fire Commissioners are revisiting our policy and preparing a corrective action plan that will be forwarded to your office.”

– Laura Schofer