Guilderland and Knox exempt from comptroller review because of missing documents

Enterprise file photo — Noah Zweifel

Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz signs her name after being sworn in at the town hall on Jan. 1, 2020, while Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis, right, looks on. Lefkaditis’s failure to submit Knox’s annual financial reports to the state comptroller on time likely resulted in Schanz’s failure to follow financial protocols, which was uncovered by an audit.

ALBANY COUNTY — The office of the state comptroller released a report last week on municipalities that are under financial duress, but the towns of Knox and Guilderland were each exempt from the review because neither had submitted its annual update documents on time.

According to a list compiled by the comptroller, more than 150 towns, villages, counties, and cities failed to file in time to be included in the review. New York state has over 1,500 municipalities.

As the name suggests, annual update documents are required to be submitted by municipalities yearly. The information gleaned from these reports eventually becomes accessible to the public through the state comptroller’s website, which allows users to compare yearly fiscal status among towns or to track the change in financial behavior in one town over a period of time. 

Filing deadlines are based on municipal population. According to a document pulled from the comptroller’s website, Guilderland, which has a population of more than 35,000 people, was scheduled to report by May 1. Knox, which has a population of under 3,000, was scheduled to report by March 1. 

Guilderland’s fiscal officer, Marcus Montgomery, told The Enterprise that Guilderland has not yet submitted its report but will in the next week or so. 

“The only reason we haven’t been able to complete it is limited staff and being out of the office intermittently with the pandemic and whatnot,” Montgomery said. 

Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis, the chief fiscal officer for Knox, told The Enterprise this week that town records are “still being worked on” and “should be completed soon enough.”

Like Montgomery, Lefkaditis blamed the lapse on the coronavirus pandemic.

“The focus to date has been on keeping residents and employees safe while short-handed and making sure they had the necessary supplies they needed, not on filing reports,” Lefkaditis told The Enterprise in June

Lefkaditis, who was sworn in as supervisor for the first time in 2016, has failed to file Knox’s annual update documents by deadline more than once. Lefkaditis told Knox residents that he had filed the 2016 and 2017 reports when he hadn’t, triggering a censure from the town board, which Lefkaditis himself voted for. Though the censure admonished Lefkaditis for lying, he maintains that he only misspoke. Lefkaditis didn’t file the 2016 report until 2019.

The delay also triggered an audit by the state comptroller, which found that Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz had not been making deposits timely or accurately, resulting in an accumulation of $3,000 in collected fees that were owed elsewhere (mostly to the supervisor’s office).

“Had the [Town] Board performed the required annual audits,” the audit report read, “it may have recognized the deficiencies in the Clerk’s records and procedures and brought them to the Clerk’s attention to encourage corrective action.”


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