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The original item was published from 12/21/2017 12:54:30 PM to 1/2/2018 1:40:10 PM.

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County Comptroller News Releases

Posted on: December 21, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Plainview Water District Audit Uncovered Major Fiscal and Operational Mismanagement

New Superintendent is Making Strides to Effect Improvements
Mineola NY. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released a two year, 2015-2016, audit of the
Plainview Water District, which uncovered numerous operational, personnel, fiscal control deficiencies,
possible abuse of public funds and higher than necessary rate increases exceeding the 2% tax cap by as
much as 300%. The District provides water to approximately 34,000 residents of Plainview, and portions
of Old Bethpage and Syosset. The findings indicate that district residents were paying some of the
highest annual Commissioner stipends which is more than double to comparable water districts such as
Port Washington and Glenwood. Poor budgeting practices resulted in an excessively high fund balance
of $4.8 million in 2016 or 66% of annual expenditures. The new superintendent and business manager
have indicated that they are taking actions to correct many of the audit findings.
“The Plainview Water District was a case study in mismanagement run like a bad family business and
not as a public utility. Everywhere the auditors looked they found fiscal, administrative, and control
deficiencies”, said Comptroller George Maragos. We are pleased that the new superintendent has
accepted the audit recommendations and seems eager to implement changes.”
Major findings of the audit included:
? In both 2015 and 2016, the budgets included tax levies that were 6% higher than the previous
year’s budget, which exceeded the State’s 2% tax levy cap. The resulting unexpended surplus
was not used to lower rates.
? Commissioner compensation was among the highest for water districts in Nassau County by
more than double to comparable water districts such as Port Washington and Glenwood.
? Supplemental benefits such as dental, optical, AFLAC and life insurance averaged almost
$6,000 per full time employee, per year, an extraordinary amount. Total employee benefits
averaged $35,000 per full time employee per year.
? During the two year audit period there was 162 million gallons of unaccounted water loss
unbeknownst to the District.
? During the two year audit period the District employed four full-time and seven part-time
employees, approximately 40% of staff, who were immediate family members of two
Commissioners and two former Commissioners, the former Superintendent and the Clerk to the
? A lack of managerial oversight allowed the Clerk to the Board to grant excess leave to the
spouse, and to process unapproved leave requests, including 55 hours of leave for herself.
? Approximately $7,000 in payouts to three employees upon their separation from the District
were not adequately documented or explained, and were not in accordance with District policies
or an employment agreement.
? The District’s records lacked documentation to substantiate the validity and appropriateness of
travel and conference expenses totaling over $44,000. None of the reimbursement claims
submitted used a standardized travel claim voucher, which violated the District’s own policy.
? Late payment fees were not applied in accordance with Town Law and District policy. In
addition, waivers of late fee penalties were not approved by the Board or documented in Board
? The District lacked adequate internal controls over purchasing and did not follow New York
State Law or its own purchasing policies in 73% of the purchases reviewed. The purchase and
use of fuel was not adequately monitored.
The Plainview Water District Administration responded positively to the Comptroller’s audit report. In
August 2017 the District hired a new Business Manager, a CPA with extensive experience in
governmental accounting, financial reporting and compliance with laws and regulations.
Connect with Nassau County Comptroller Maragos Online:

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