Westhampton Beach Village Addresses Concerns Over Financial Records

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Westhampton Beach Village officials said they have implemented changes at the recommendation of the New York State Comptroller’s Office that should improve the security of the municipality’s financial records and otherwise sensitive electronic data.

Earlier this month, the comptroller released the findings of an audit that examined the village’s controls over its information technology for the period of June 1, 2011, through April 30, 2013. Released on September 5, the audit revealed a number of weaknesses in the way the village stores its electronic documents that could have provided the opportunity for abuse, according to the report.

Village Clerk-Treasurer Elizabeth Lindtvit said during last week’s Board of Trustees work session that Mayor Conrad Teller had drafted a corrective action plan that addresses the report’s findings and recommendations, as required by the comptroller’s office. She said she expected to mail it in the coming week. The state requires that it be mailed within 90 days after the audit is released.

The report points out that the village clerk had administrative rights to financial software, which could have allowed her, or her predecessor, Rebecca Molinaro, to add users, modify data and correct errors without alerting others. Those issues have been corrected, Ms. Lindtvit said during last week’s meeting. Auditors noted that no money has gone missing as a result of the issues.

Village officials have also assigned employees unique identifications and passwords, the latter of which will be changed every month for those with access to financial records, and bimonthly for other employees, as the report recommended. In addition, the mayor and trustees will receive audit logs quarterly for their review, and the village has formally outlined a disaster recovery plan that will be designed to backup all of the municipality’s records if a storm or other disaster damages Village Hall.

Ms. Lindtvit explained that the Westhampton Beach company Fluid Imagery is already contracted to provide IT support to the municipality and had a backup method for storing data; the state, however, requires that the board have an official policy on the books.

Also during the meeting on September 18, the trustees discussed the possibility of purchasing a new sun shade system to replace the gazebo at the village yacht basin that was removed earlier this year. They passed a resolution over the summer authorizing the spending of up to $18,000 on such a purchase.

Trustee Hank Tucker expressed some concern over the aesthetics of the system if its sails were to be removed during the winter months, leaving just a framework of metal poles. Board members agreed to continue discussing the proposed purchase and will hire an engineer to sample the soil in the area in order to select a suitable location for the poles that will support the sun shade system.

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