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Auditor general: West York's management of state funds 'inexcusable'

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
  • At a press conference Aug. 29 at Shelly Park, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale noted a "borough this size" shouldn't misplace a check worth over $100,000.
  • Mayor Shawn Mauck said he's sorry it has "taken this damn long."

 

PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale releases his latest audit of West York Borough's Liquid Fuel fund, Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at Shelly Park.  John A. Pavoncello photo

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale summed up his office's audit of West York Borough’s Liquid Fuels funds as "inexcusable” and “unacceptable.”

The 21-page audit focused on state Department of Transportation funds allocated to the borough in 2016 and 2017, the auditor general’s office reported. The audit contains three findings and four recommendations, DePasquale confirmed. 

At a news  conference Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Shelly Park, he noted a "borough this size" shouldn't misplace a check worth over $100,000.

PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale releases his latest audit of West York Borough's Liquid Fuel fund, Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at Shelly Park.  John A. Pavoncello photo

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“They should be running to the bank, not waiting months (to deposit the funds), so we outline that,” DePasquale said. 

The audit confirmed “the borough waited 45 days to deposit its 2016 liquid fuels check for $107,333.77 — then wrongly deposited it into the borough’s general fund instead of the liquid fuels account.”

"Additionally, the municipality's 2017 Liquid Fuels Tax Fund allocation check of $112,335.64 was never cashed," the audit reported. 

Those funds are now in the proper account, the borough's solicitor Mieke Driscoll said at a recent borough meeting. 

The other two findings dealt with having only "one signature on Liquid Fuels" checks, as well as not filing timely and proper tax forms, the audit determined. 

The auditor general's department recommended the following: deposit all allocations into the Liquid Fuels Tax fund immediately upon receipt; ensure that tax forms are complete and accurate; establish an adequate system of internal controls over disbursements; and consider the electronic transfer of funds offered by PennDOT. 

Interim borough manager Linda Diaz, who did not oversee management of state funds until 2017, also relayed recently to council members that she signed the municipality up for PennDOT's electronic transfer of Liquid Fuels funds. Going forward, she said, the money will  be directly deposited into the boroughs' Liquid Fuels account. 

But it's not only the administration that DePasquale said should be held accountable.

He said borough council needs to "step up its game" to make sure Liquid Fuels funds —collected through the gas tax and the state's Motor License Fund from various driver fees — is deposited and spent properly on road and bridge repair projects.

West King Street facing westward in West York Borough, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert

"There is critical infrastructure that needs to get repaired, and waiting months to get that money into use and deposited ... is simply unacceptable," he said.

Mayor Shawn Mauck said he's sorry it has "taken this damn long."

"I wish we would have had the ability to come together sooner," he said in a phone interview. "Sometimes government doesn't work as fast as we would like it to. I think we all realize that now. Unfortunately, we are back to ground zero looking for a new borough manager. We need to clearly partner with someone like the Auditor General's Office or an accounting firm to get internal controls in place."

DePasquale said it's very possible that PennDOT could withhold West York's next Liquid Fuels allocation after the transportation department reviews his findings.