Matter of Inwood Fire Dist – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Matter of Inwood Fire Dist. (152 Misc 2d 518, 577 NYS2d 575 [Sup Ct, Nassau County 1991]), the court held that the County Comptroller lacked the authority to audit fire departments.

In that case, the court noted that "section 402 (6) of the Nassau County Charter authorized the County Comptroller to examine and audit the accounts and records of any town or special district, and make reports on the financial condition of the county or any or all of its political subdivisions" and that "section 405 mandates that each special district within the county file an annual audit, prepared by a certified public accountant, with the County Comptroller." (Id. at 523.)

The court further noted (at 523) that section 1502 of the County Charter defines special districts as "water, sewer, drainage, and garbage collection and disposal, which may be created or expanded by authority of the county" and did not include fire districts, which are political divisions of the State and district corporations. (See id. at 518-519; Town Law § 174 7; General Corporation Law § 3.)

In addition, the court held that "the authority of the county to conduct audits is ... limited to the examination of the financial affairs of political subdivisions of the county, and does not extend to political subdivisions of the State." (See Matter of Inwood Fire Dist. at 523.)

It held:

"While the county has the authority to audit political subdivisions of the county, and those special districts which it may establish or extend, the county is without jurisdiction to audit political subdivisions of the State, the creation and extension of which is within the sole and exclusive authority of the State Comptroller." (Id.)