Following an audit by the East Hampton Town’s budget office of Local T.V., Inc., known locally as LTV Studios, the East Hampton Town Board began discussing internal controls it would like to put in place as it looks towards a new contract with the studio to provide public access to residents in East Hampton Town.
The town’s contract with LTV is up for renewal in November of 2012.
On Tuesday, during a town board work session, budget officer Len Bernard presented the findings of the audit, which was completed by certified public accountant Charlene Kagel.
According to Bernard, through Cablevision franchise fees the town collects, LTV received about $640,000 from the town last year.
That accounts for seven-eighths of the studio’s overall budget said Bernard, with a small portion of funding coming from the Village of East Hampton and through outside fundraising.
As East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson noted, the town is not required to give the 80 percent of Cablevision franchise fees to LTV, as it does, and could spend the money elsewhere if the town board felt it was warranted.
In his report on the audit, Bernard said that “generally speaking” Kagel found LTV did spend the money it received on equipment, services and other items related to its mission, which is to provide public access to the residents of East Hampton Town.
The studio does have an external audit performed each year, added Bernard, and those audits are available to town board members.
Despite spending the money correctly, Bernard said the studio does not follow a procurement policy that ensures it the best price possible on a service, or if it does, documentation is not available to show it is following that practice.
The budget office believes if the town negotiates a new contract with the board of directors of LTV it should require the studio follow the town’s procurement policy or at least the procurement policy laid out under general municipal law.
Another suggestion from the budget office is that the town require LTV to show what equipment, or hard costs, are purchased with town monies. That equipment, said Bernard, should LTV cease to serve as the public access agent for the town, would become town property and without a record it is impossible to discern exactly what would belong to the town should the studio shut down and what would belong to LTV.
Town board member Dominick Stanzione said he would also like to explore having LTV come to the town board, like all other town departments, and request its budget rather than simply get the money up front.
While LTV could very well show the studio’s budget is critical to keep at its current level, he said, it is ideal for them to follow the same practice of any other department within the town.