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Hamburg criticized for loose monitoring of gas purchases, Woodlawn fees

The state comptroller's office did not use the word "haphazard" to describe the Town of Hamburg's fuel policy. It said the fuel purchased with town fuel cards are not "monitored or tracked."

But town Supervisor James M. Shaw said the state audit made it clear that tracking of town fuel purchases was pretty loose.

"They're saying to us we can't tell you definitely ... your record keeping is too haphazard," Shaw said.

"They found no theft," Highway Superintendent Ted Casey said, adding it was the town's responsibility to implement a policy, not the Highway or Buildings and Grounds departments.

Town officials are putting together new policies on how to keep an accurate accounting of fuel purchased for use in town vehicles and for the security of town gas tanks. They are looking at which town employees have access to the fuel pumps. Hamburg is to send a corrective action plan to the comptroller's office by Sept. 30.

A separate audit also found that record keeping at Woodlawn Beach State Park was lax, and it was impossible to determine if the proper entrance fees were being collected. Those policies were tightened this summer and will be sent to the comptroller's office.

"The whole idea now is to try and come up with a comprehensive program," Shaw said.

The Town Board ordered the highway superintendent, buildings and grounds head and recreation director to submit recommendations on possible policies. The supervisor will come up with a policy and the board will review it before it is sent to the comptroller's office.

Casey said he already sent a reply to the comptroller's office in June with a detailed plan, and sent copies to the Town Board at the same time.

Hamburg contracts with a local gas station chain for gas, which provided 120 fobs to the town to obtain access to the pumps, according to the audit, which looked at how nearly $1 million in gas for 2017 and 2018 was tracked.

The fobs were assigned to a specific vehicle or piece of equipment. Each authorized employee has a personal identification number that is entered when getting gas. The employee also is supposed to enter the vehicle's mileage.

State auditors looked at the list of employees authorized to obtain gas, and determined 147 of them should not be on the list or have active personal identification numbers. About half of those people were former employees.

The town also has six reserve tanks at several locations, and the audit found not every tank was secure or properly monitored.

"I have a sense there is not a lot of tight follow-through historically with highway and buildings and grounds," Shaw said. "Having some outside experts take a look at the operation is pretty important."

Recreation Supervisor Martin Denecke acknowledged some workers did not always keep all of the required information on daily tally sheets at Woodlawn Beach. The comptroller's office said that made it difficult to determine if employees collected the proper fees for the tags that were issued.

He said that changed this year with more training and oversight.

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