State audit: Watkins undercharges for festivals
WATKINS GLEN (April 10, 2012)—According to the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the village of Watkins Glen ended up paying $21,708 that should have been billed to various event organizers from June 1, 2010, to Oct. 6, 2011.
The comptroller’s office performed an audit of event personnel and information technology, which was released Tuesday, April 3. The audit was specifically designed to find out if the village is incurring any additional costs and if the village computer system and data are adequately protected.
The comptroller’s office said that Watkins incurs significant additional personnel (police and park employees) costs related to five festivals/events held in the village. During the past two summers (2010 and 2011), Watkins collected fees for festivals and events totaling $1,125 and an additional $712 for utilities. However, the additional village personnel costs during the festivals were approximately $23,000. Although the village’s policy for festivals and events provides for the assessment of these additional personnel costs to the organizers, the village has not charged additional fees. As a result, the audit said the village has absorbed approximately $22,000 in expenditures.
The audit stated that although the festival/event policy allows the village to assess additional charges for overtime generated by village employees, or for hiring additional assistance such as police or trash removal during these festivals, the village has not done so. Village officials explained to the comptroller that the additional charges were not tracked or charged when the events were much smaller. When the size of the events increased, the village provided the additional personnel necessary to accommodate for the increase. However, because they did not track the additional personnel costs, these costs were not charged to or reimbursed by the organizers and sponsors. Instead, these costs were absorbed by the individual departments’ budgets.
The audit recommended the village revise its festival and event policy to properly charge and collect all fees. Watkins should also track what the additional costs are and charge event sponsors.
Concerning information technology, the state said the village has not established policies and procedures related to computer security or adopted a disaster recovery plan to address potential disasters. Additionally, there is no system in place for monitoring IT activity or changes in the system. Therefore, IT assets are at risk for unauthorized and inappropriate use. The comptroller recommended:
• Village officials should develop a formal, written computer security plan and ensure that it is communicated to, and understood by, all appropriate personnel.
• The board should adopt an information breach notification policy.
• Village officials should develop and adopt a formal disaster recovery plan that documents steps to be taken in the event of an emergency.
The audit included a response from Watkins Glen Mayor Mark Swinnerton, who said the report was accurate in its findings. He explained the village will address the recommendations in a corrective action plan.