Canton Courts Require Better Internal Controls, Audit Says

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Justice courts in the town and village of Canton require more oversight and need to beef up their internal financial controls.

An audit of each court system by the state comptroller's office found "significant weaknesses in the court's internal controls and a lack of oversight of the court's operations by the justices and the board."

The village court is overseen by the village justice and the village board. The town justices and the town board oversee the town court.

In a written response, the Canton village board said it agrees with all the auditors' recommendations.

To help correct the problems, the board voted to eliminate its justice position at the end of the year. The town will take over jurisdiction, officials say.

Town officials say there was a large turnover in court clerks and judges during the audit period, which accounted for most of the problems.

Between the town and village, there were a total of eight justices over about two years who were supported by a single clerk, officials say.

Town officials say the accounts are now balanced and the justices will review them each month.

In both courts, auditors found:

- The justices have not ensured that the clerks performed bank reconciliations or accountability analyses to account for all court funds.

- The clerks performed all of the key aspects of the Court's cash accounting functions with limited oversight and the justices did not ensure that clerk duties were adequately segregated.

- Departing justices did not meet basic requirements when leaving office.

- Town and village officials who conducted annual audits of court records noted bank reconciliations were not being performed, but neither board took corrective action.

The comptroller's office recommended the town and village:

- Ensure that bank reconciliations and accountability analyses are properly performed on a monthly basis.

- Establish policies and procedures that address adequate segregation of cash custody and record-keeping duties or ensure that compensating controls are implemented such as supervisory or board oversight.

- Ensure that a justice who resigns his or her official position meets all requirements upon resignation.

- Address any issues identified during the annual audit of the court's financial records.

See the complete Canton town court audit.

See the complete Canton village court audit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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