Today, February 3, 2007, Stephen Zurek of New York Mills, former County Legislator, wrote a letter to the editor giving the other side of the story. Mr. Zurek said that no one responded to the initial editorial, but that's not completely true. We did respond on the Observer Dispatch Story Chat. Let me comment on Mr. Zurek's Letter to the Editor because the Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government are of the same opinion as Mr. Zurek.
In his letter to the editor, Mr. Zurek writes, "We do not need costly outside oversight professionals. Spare the taxpayers. Oversight responsibility rests with town Supervisors Matt Shannon and Earle Reed. It does not require nuclear scientists."
How true that is Mr. Zurek! If, as Mr. Reed keeps stating, he doesn't have the financial experience, he shouldn't have run for office.
Town Law specifically states, and I quote (pertinent excerpt only). To read section 124 of the Consolidated Town Law regarding Town Finances in its entirety, please visit Findlaw:
"S 124. Designation of the comptroller as accounting officer. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the town board of a town in which the office of comptroller has been established may, by resolution, determine that such officer shall be the accounting officer of the town. In such event, all of the accounting duties of the town supervisor shall be transferred to and be performed by the comptroller. In addition to keeping detailed accounting records, the comptroller shall prepare and transmit to the town clerk the report required by subdivision ten or, if the town board shall so determine, the report required by subdivision ten-a of section twenty-nine of this chapter.So Mr. Reed can hire 10 comptrollers, but Mr. Reed is still ultimately responsible for the town finances. And you and I are ultimately going to pay for his purported "lack of financial experience" in the form of increased taxes.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve the town supervisor of his duties as treasurer of the town pursuant to subdivisions one, two, three and four of section twenty-nine of this chapter."
I asked at the November 1, 2006 budget hearing if Ms. Fairbrother, our very capable town bookkeeper was leaving us---the answer was "no". So we will be paying Ms. Fairbrother her $55,000+ salary and Whitestown has already stated that Ms. Hartman will remain in her bookkeeper job and there will be the added $75,000+ expense of a comptroller. Supposedly, the amount comptroller costs will be equally split between the two towns, but we have yet to see the contract that will ultimately be signed.
On top of that, according to an article in the Observer Dispatch on January 22, 2007, Whitestown has followed the Town of New Hartford and decided to only hold one town board meeting a month. According to the article, Dan Sullivan, a Whitestown councilman said it was "so the new comptroller, who will be juggling two town board schedules, won't have to attend as many meetings".
In contrast, at a town board meeting prior to the end of the year, New Hartford Ward 1 Councilman Robert A. Payne, III, said the Town of New Hartford went to one meeting a month so that they could work around their vacation schedules and Mr. Reed added that everyone knows how well they work in committee so 2 town board meetings a month are not necessary. We will be watching after the new comptroller is named to see just how many town board meeting he actually attends--hopefully he will appear with monthly reports in hand so residents can see just what it is they are paying for and how fast and furiously their money is being spent!
Better yet, I hope that Mr. Reed and Mr. Shannon come to their senses and realize that it is time to cut the baloney and work to reduce taxes for the residents of their respective towns.
March 29, 2007 may be a good time to send Mr. Reed a message!