Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 24, 2013

Housing authority controls questioned

Niagara Gazette — The New York State Comptroller’s Office wants the Niagara Falls Housing Authority to improve oversight of its executive director after an audit identified issues related to her compensation and use of accrued vacation time. 

In an audit covering activities between Jan. 1, 2010 and July 31, 2012, the state comptroller’s office determined that housing authority Executive Director Stephanie Cowart received $6,400 in “improper” stipends and “improperly accrued more vacation leave than authorized without board approval.”

The audit, which reviewed payments made to Cowart to determine if they were accurate and in compliance with her employment contract and authority personnel policies, found 70 payroll checks totaling $290,460 were properly allocated to Cowart during the period in question. It also revealed “certain other payments” that were “improperly paid, not supported with appropriate documentation, and/or did not comply with the terms of the employment contract.”

In its report, the comptroller’s office blamed the situation on what it described as a lack of “sufficient” board oversight. 

“Unless the board increases its oversight of the executive director, the authority is at risk of paying her for benefits she is not entitled to receive,” the audit report noted.  

In its recommendations, the comptroller’s office called upon the authority’s board to recover “any improper payments.”  

Cowart said elements of her contract may be renegotiated in compliance with the auditors’ recommendations, but said she does not anticipate being required to pay back any money. 

“All payments were approved,” she said. “They were accurate and they were fully supported.” 

Cowart’s contract runs from Dec. 1, 2011 to Nov. 30, 2014. She is paid a base salary of $105,798 per year, with a monthly stipend of $500 allowed for reimbursement of “expenses” as well as an additional yearly compensation of $5,000. She is also eligible to receive “bonus payments” at the board’s discretion for “extraordinary accomplishments.” 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
Poll

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results