Gallagher, Sanders Hit In New Audit
By MICHAEL CUSENZA
An audit report filed last week by the Office of the City Comptroller details improper payments made by the City Council, including the questionable member purchases of two Queens councilmen.
Though the specific improprieties are explained in the Audit Report on the Other Than Personal Service Expenditures of the New York City Council, the names have been withheld. A source familiar with the audit told the Tribune that they are Councilmen Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) and James Sanders (D-Laurelton).
The audit, which covered the period of July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005, sampled 50 councilmember OTPS expenditures for more than $100. The sample totaled $32,107, with the report indicating that $12,894 of the total “was not paid on accordance with the Comptroller’s Directives or Council Rules, or was paid without adequate supporting documentation.”
Outlined in the report is a questionable payment of $8,100 in rent without evidence of a lease. According to the source, this item is attributed to Gallagher.
“Until I have verification that it is us, I can’t make a comment on it,” Gallagher’s Chief of Staff Margaret Keta said.
The report also stated that the Council made a questionable payment of $1,496 on a voucher that had no councilmember certification stamp or signature. According to the source, this payment is attributed to Sanders.
Sanders’ Chief of Staff Mike Duncan was incredulous.
“If we ever give anything in unsigned, [the Council] will kick it back,” Duncan said. “I find it very strange for something to get by us and by [the Council]. No invoice gets paid unless the councilmember signs it.”
In response to the Comptroller’s recommendation that all OTPS purchases be made in accordance with the rules and are accompanied by adequate supporting documentation, the Council promised to “review and strengthen internal controls” and is “undertaking additional training for staff involved in purchasing and processing payments.”
The Council did not return calls and e-mails requesting further information regarding the two specific questionable councilmember purchases.
City Comptroller Bill Thompson told the Tribune Wednesday that he stands by the audit report.