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Clerk answers to critical residents

North Collins Village Clerk Kathleen "Kitty" Myers defended herself Tuesday night after residents demanded the village improve control over village funds.

A state audit said the Village Board does not receive monthly financial reports, and no one reviews the clerk-treasurer's bank reconciliations.

Myers said her office has undergone a number of audits in her 28 years as village clerk.

"There was nothing misappropriated," Myers said during Tuesday's Village Board meeting. "There was nothing criminal."

The audit by the Office of State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli also said the Village Board should get more involved in paying bills. The board should audit claims before disbursement and establish an internal control system, the audit stated.

Trustee Jennie Alessi said the board has tried to do that but has not been successful because it can't get access to the records it needs from the clerk. She said Village Board members asked for the audit because they have had issues with the clerk.

"This is not about Kitty, but it is about practices that need to change," Alessi said.

Resident Dee Cooper said the audit was unacceptable. She was upset that Myers received a $777 bonus for perfect attendance.

"My salary and benefits are a matter of public record, anyone can see it," said Cooper, who works for the North Collins School District. "Why do some village employees get a bonus?"

Alessi said the 1991 employee agreement included a provision for a bonus for village employees who have perfect attendance, but the 1998 agreement did not.

Mayor Vincent George said a corrective plan will be prepared in the coming weeks and sent to the Comptroller's Office.

The audit said bills were paid without the proper approval from the board and that the clerk is performing duties that are incompatible and should be segregated.

The problems have been going on for years, according to former Trustee Beverly Boltz. She said she tried numerous times to get information from the clerk, but without success.

The clerk said she and the board have to work on communication.

"I am the records manager. They are in my control," she said of the records, adding that board members must come into the office to look at them.

Many of the board members work and can't come into Village Hall during the day to see records.

Alessi said the board has received some information since the audit was released, but not everything it has requested.