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Auditor heaps praise on village

An independent auditor this week praised the Village of Lancaster for its consolidation efforts that began in 2003, saying they have helped put the village on a sounder financial footing and improved its reserves.

"You've done a lot of things right," auditor Tom Malecki, of Drescher & Malecki, noted as he went over his report with the Village Board. "Your fund balance is very stable right now at 20 percent."

Malecki was complimentary of the village's merger of police functions with the Town of Lancaster and its water merger with Erie County.

Both mergers were costly to accomplish at the outset, Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. said, but they have paid off for the village in the long term.

Cansdale said the village is now working on building up its sewer fund reserves for a planned merger with Erie County.

The sewer fund stands at $285,163 -- nearly triple the amount for 2004.

The auditor presented a list of financial and policy practices that he said need tightening up in the village.

He noted that the Department of Public Works, for example, had been holding onto checks for as long as nine months without depositing them in the bank. Once the problem was identified in June, all the department's cash receipts were deposited. Malecki recommended that all village cash receipts be deposited in a timely manner.

Other audit recommendations included:

*Updating the Code of Ethics, as well as village employee policies relating to cell phone, computer and vehicle use.

*Establishing a formal procedure to record capital asset additions or disposals.

*Creating new internal controls over information technology, such as policies and procedures for computer program use, changing employee passwords on a regular basis and establishing an emergency plan in the event of a disaster.

*Implementing a hiring policy including with criminal and financial background checks.

Cansdale said he and members of the board will hold a special work session Monday to address and follow through on all the auditor's recommendations.


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