"As I indicated might be the case, the sale of the MOEN faucet was from seized property by the Town Police Department; therefore, there is no Purchase Order and no Invoice."Anyway, it took several follow-up emails to the Town Clerk asking when we could expect to receive the information...the town clerk answered our last inquiry by saying that Chief Philo said they are waiting to get information from PayPal. Then a couple of days ago we suddenly received an email from her saying that she had our FOILed documents.
We were given several pages including a memo sent from Jeffrey Madden, Dispatch Supervisor, to the Town Clerk. The memo stated the name and address of the winning bidder and also said:
"A copy of Pay-Pal check number 723961 is also included to reflect the transfer of E-Bay sales revenue from this sale (and others) to the Town from Patrolman Herman.O.K., we have a few questions. The Pay Pal check is made out to Officer Herman for $81.89 and the receipt made out to Officer Herman by Carol Fairbrother, the town bookkeeper, is also for $81.89. So we guess we should assume that just like the "only used for testing" Troy-bilt snowthrower that the town police seized and sold on eBay, Officer Herman's personal PayPal account was used to accept the money from the winning bidder.
Feel free to contact me with any questions."
But now included in the FOILed documents we get a copy of Officer Herman's personal check made out to the Town of New Hartford and we find out that Officer Herman had the PayPal money electronically transferred to his personal checking account "to speed the process and result in less fees"! So that is why we received a copy of Officer Herman's personal check to the town with the FOILed information on the Moen faucet; that check had nothing to do with the Moen faucet. Interesting, in Officer Herman's memo to Chief Philo he says he "will be working with Jeff (we assume Jeff Madden) to get the process streamlined." Streamlined...this whole process is already an accounting nightmare...where are the controls!
The money from the sales were supposedly deposited in Account A2665.1 - Police Sale of Equipment, but how can you deposit the entire amount of the sale price, less the listing and PayPal fees into a revenue account without accounting for the shipping cost. There should be two (2) accounts listed on that receipt a revenue (sale of equipment) and an expense (shipping expense).
Again, no sales tax was collected on any of the items. Even if the town wants to assume that the sales tax for vehicles sold on eBay will be collected when the vehicle is registered, when would the sales tax for the clock, the toner cartridge or the laptop computers be collected? Oh, yeah, we didn't bother to FOIL the information on the NEW HP Color Laser Printer Cyan Toner Cartridge or the circa 1910 Waterbury Clock Co. Covetry Mantle Clock that was sold by the town on eBay. We figured they were more items seized in drug busts!
When we were given the FOILed information, one thing jumped out at us...the copy of the receipt to Dan Herman had been altered. Naturally, we decided that we needed to find out why a receipt had been altered so we visited the bookkeeper today. She gave us a copy of the paperwork she had for the sale of the Moen faucet. Of course, we had to pay for the copies, but it was interesting that once again even though we were given copies of documents and the originals stayed with the bookkeeper, the Town Clerk's office had to make copies of our copies. What a waste of paper...but it is now quite obvious that we are being watched. Guess we are making people nervous...
What we found out was that there were actually two receipts that were altered by the bookkeeper, receipts # 9758 and 9759. The bookkeeper said she apparently misunderstood what the payments she received from Chief Philo were for and she had to make corrections. We must say we are totally confused at this point, because the memo supposedly sent to the bookkeeper on August 21, 2007 explicitly detailed the items and the amounts. It is difficult to determine why there was confusion when the bookkeeper made out the receipts 10 days later on August 31, 2007. See for yourself, we have provided copies of what we received from the bookkeeper including a copy of the memo from Chief Philo to the bookkeeper and copies of the altered receipts.
The problem here is not the small amount of money collected for the Moen faucet, but more important we see a systemic problem that is particularly troubling when you look at the larger picture. God help us if this is the way that business is conducted in the Town of New Hartford. No signed contracts...understated revenues...town monies run through employee personal accounts...there are no controls! Why are the town police even involved in the sale of items on eBay? That is not their area of expertise nor is it what they are being paid to do.
It took over a month for the town to provide us with information for the Moen faucet because they apparently were having trouble piecing the information together...if the town is audited, I hope someone can remember the details, because as you can see from the paperwork we have been given, it is one big confusing mess.
At the last town board meeting, we asked the name and location of the person who bought the 1999 International Harvester Truck with Plow that recently sold on eBay for $7,500; our question wasn't even acknowledged. When items, particularly items of this value are sold on eBay it should be a matter of public record and should be noted in the town board minutes. We hope the town board will make sure that the minutes contain a record of ALL sales of town equipment including those on eBay...it is the right thing to do!