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Genesee official defends county in wake of critical state audit

BATAVIA – Genesee County Manager Jay A. Gsell said he is unfazed by a State Comptroller’s Office audit that casts a negative light on highway department bids and purchase card activity for an 18-month period through June 2015, noting that the county is following proper procedures or is in the process of making recommended adjustments.

The audit was done to determine if county officials were obtaining the desired amount of materials and supplies at the lowest possible cost in accordance with adopted policies.

The audit stated that the County Legislature did not award highway material and supply bids to the lowest responsible bidder as required and the county Highway Department did not always make purchases from the vendor with the lowest bid price.

The report went on to suggest that the county might have been able to save $10,000 by buying asphalt and stone products from low bidders.

Gsell said that the comptroller’s audit did not include the “distance factor” in the bid process, something that is paramount to obtaining the best price.

“The comptroller’s audit, after more than a year of analysis, failed to take into account the application of the distance factor that is included in our bid specifications, which allows the county to determine the lowest responsible bid based on the location of the quarry relative to the road work or construction site,” Gsell said.

“The cost of hauling materials is significant and to not factor this in the low bid determination, as numerous other New York State counties also do, would be irresponsible by the county to its taxpayers.”

The audit also stated that county employees authorized to use purchase cards did not always comply with the purchase card policy, and that the treasurer’s office did not adequately review purchase card transactions.

Two other findings by the Comptroller’s Office dealt with securing adequate documentation for expenditures – both through the bidding process and with the use of the purchase cards.

Gsell said the county has “clarified and demonstrated compliance with or corrected all six recommendations in the audit and aside from filing our ‘corrective’ action plan in the next 90 days, we consider this engagement closed.”