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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From Comptroller to CFO to Financial Consultant...

To quote from the article in yesterday's Observer Dispatch:
From Basile’s perspective, the town’s “progressive” nature and the frequency with which myriad projects often are being worked on at once made his service necessary.

However, a comptroller could have handled many of the responsibilities taken up by his firm, he said.

“If there were a town comptroller, our hours would have been a lot less,” he said. “The amount of time we would have spent would have been a lot less.”
But wait, we thought the town was looking for a comptroller back in 2007, so why did they hire Frank Basile's firm instead? Here is a copy of the ad that was run in the August 10, 11, & 12 Observer Dispatch, and a copy of the ad that was placed on the Town website. Here's a snippet:
COMPTROLLER POSITION OPEN

Comptroller/Finance Manager: Experienced Municipal Finance Manager with skills in monthly financial preparation and analysis, cash flow maintenance, governmental audits,implementation and oversight of the budget process, management of purchasing and payroll.

Experience with Grant and Economic Development Agencies is desired. Successful candidate must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and be selfstarter, prepared for immediate responsibility. Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. EOE...Resume must be sent no later than October 1, 2007...

Hmm! Doesn't salary imply town employee vs. a contractor? And doesn't it say resumes no later than October 1, 2007? Then how did the deal with Frank Basile come about and his initial contract become effective as of September 10, 2007?

A letter from Earle Reed dated August 20, 2007 was FAXed to Frank Basile on August 21, 2007. The FAX starts with:

The Town has recognized a need for a Chief Financial Officer and is taking steps to fill that need.
Wait a minute Supervisor Reed, according to town law YOU ARE the Chief Financial Officer! If you were FAXing Mr. Basile in regard to the advertised position, shouldn't you have said you were looking for a Comptroller?

Just look at who got copies of the letter FAXed to Frank Basile:

cc: Town Board
Highway Superintendent
Town Planner
Codes Enforcement Officer
Director/Parks & Recreation
Chief of Police
Human Resource Officer
They must have all been members of the Town of New Hartford Comptroller Search Committee... or was it the Town of New Hartford CFO Search Committee or the Town of New Hartford Financial Advisor Search Committee?

Anyway, Frank Basile replied to the FAX on August 21, 2007, the same day he received it:

...Are you looking for a firm to provide a number of hours @ a specified rate per hour/per year to assist you and the Town with your accounting needs as outlined in items 1 thru 3 of your letter or are you looking for an individual to maintain that position on an annual basis?
Next communication between Mr. Basile and Earle Reed on September 10, 2007 outlines Mr. Basile's hourly rate, so it is probably safe to guess that Earle Reed said in answer to Mr. Basile's question that billing at an hourly rate is fine. Mr. Basile ended his email with "Please let me know if this proposal is within your budget and time constraints." Must be it was because a contract dated September 10, 2007 through December 31, 2008 was signed by both Frank Basile and Earle Reed.

Funny thing is that the town board didn't approved Mr. Basile's contract until the September 26, 2007 town board meeting. But look at Board Resolution No. 227 OF 2007 approved at the September 26 2007 town board meeting regarding Mr. Basile's contract. It says:
WHEREAS, the Town of New Hartford has completed the following procedures with regard to retaining the services of a financial advisor [emphasis by blogger] :

• advertised for the position in the Observer Dispatch on August10, 11 and 12, 2007
• posted the position on the Town’s Website
• advertised the position on Career Builders from August 9, 2007 through September 8, 2007
• mailed approximately fifteen (15) direct-mail requests to local accountants
• conducted three (3) interviews with prospective hirees;...
Wait a minute Supervisor Reed, you took all those steps to hire a Comptroller who would be a salaried employee not a financial advisor who would be paid hourly! Remember, Supervisor Reed, the job posted was for a salaried Comptroller...

So was Mr. Basile working for the town before the town board approved his contract?

Yes. According to Mr. Basile's invoice dated September 30, 2007, Mr. Basile started billing the town on September 20, 2007...almost a week before the town even approved his contract. Looks like another retroactive resolution was approved by the town board.

Also according to Mr. Basile's first invoice, he gave the town a 15% "APPRECIATION" DISCOUNT of $855.00. Wonder what that was all about? Mr. Basile already stated in his September 10, 2007 email to Earle that he was giving the town a "special hourly rate" so what did the town do to earn an "appreciation discount"?

Next, we will take a closer look at Mr. Basile's invoices to the town. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Town Manager type of government,a comptroller and a good HR person would be in order. The size of this Town and the complex business is to much for a part time person elected because he is a nice person.