Golf course reports of driving-range fees fine, but procedures lacking

GUILDERLAND — A State Comptroller’s audit found that the amounts reported by the  director of the Western Turnpike Golf Course, professional golfer Herb Moreland, and the portions paid to the town, which owns the course, were correct for 2015 and 2016.

But the state recommended that, in the future, the golf course director should remit driving-range fees to the town comptroller more frequently and should include daily sales logs with its annual report, so that an independent reconciliation of the amounts can be performed.

Currently, the comptroller’s report said, no one is independently checking the daily sales logs against the golf course director’s annual report of driving-range fees.

“We’re happy that the state found that everything was reported accurately.,” Moreland told The Enterprise. “When you’re dealing with the kinds of monies that we are, it’s always nice to have the state come in and say that everything is being done properly and concisely and accurately.”

Asked about the supporting documentation that the state said was not currently being sent in, Moreland said, “They mentioned they wanted those in a more timely fashion.”

The Western Turnpike Golf Course is owned by the town and administered by the Parks and Recreation Department. Its day-to-day operations are overseen by Moreland.

A state audit a year ago had turned up more serious problems.

This time, the state comptroller’s office examined the collections received at the town’s golf course between Jan. 1, 2015 through Oct. 31, 2016.

Total golf course revenues for 2015 were $970,000, according to the report. This includes annual membership dues, greens fees, charges for private or corporate parties, and fees for leagues, golf-cart rentals, and driving-range use.

The director has established various fees for the different rounds of golf and cart rentals, including specials and leagues, according to the report. The director operates the driving range, and the town receives a portion of the fees; the director also operates the pro shop, but the town does not receive a portion of those sales, the report says.

Collections at the golf course were “properly accounted for and deposited timely and intact,” according to the report, except for driving-range fees, which were “not remitted to the comptroller’s office timely.”

In addition, the report says, “No one independent of the Director reconciled the daily sales logs to his annual report of driving range fees.” Finally, the director did not provide the comptroller’s office with the daily sales logs or other documentation that would have made it possible for the comptroller’s office to perform a reconciliation of the two records.

Driving range fees were $44,000 in 2015 and $36,000 in 2016; the director paid the town $3,300 in 2015 and $2,700 in 2016 for range fees, at the end of the golf season, handing in an annual report on collections for driving range sales; however, the director did not hand in any sales logs, the report says, which means that the comptroller’s office was unable to perform a reconciliation to check the amounts.

“Without routine and timely fee remittances and a reconciliation between the daily sales logs and the annual report, there is a risk that errors could occur and go undetected with the accounting for driving range fees,” the report concluded.

The state comptroller’s office made this recommendation: “The Director should remit driving range fees to the Comptroller’s office on a timelier basis (e.g., weekly or monthly) and include the daily sales logs with the annual report so that a reconciliation can be performed between the two records.

“I think the audit went well,” said Guilderland’s comptroller, Jean Sterling. “It seemed to all be good; they didn’t really have any criticisms. They leave us with a couple of suggestions, which we always try to follow.”

Town Supervisor Peter Barber wrote in an email, responding to Enterprise questions, “As recommended in the report, the Town will increase the frequency of the Director’s accounting of driving range fees to a bi-weekly basis.”

A year ago, two town golf-course employees resigned and their supervisor was demoted, in the wake of a state comptroller’s audit of town employee compensation and benefits. That comptroller’s report, issued in February of 2016, covered the period from Jan. 1, 2014 to Jan. 31, 2015. The discrepancies occurred, the report said, because the employees’ supervisor certified the hours that they submitted without checking time cards or ensuring that leave time was used when employees were absent.

As a result of that 2016 finding, Parks and Recreation Maintenance Supervisor Colin Gallup was demoted to the position of Town Park Foreman, said Barber at the time. Gallup’s demotion was accompanied by a reduction in salary, from approximately $82,000 to $73,000, Barber said.

Gallup’s former duties were taken over by two employees, Barber said, with the majority taken over by Gregory Wier, superintendent of the transfer station, and others being handled by Linda Cure of the Parks and Recreation Department.

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