Concerned Citizens has learned through FOILed emails that during the Earle Reed administration the entire town board was well aware that their budgeted sales tax revenues were way off base.
A memo written by Town Bookkeeper Carol Fairbrother was dated August 22, 2008; about the same time that the budget committee [Fairbrother, Reed, Basile, et al] would have been working on the 2009 town budget. The memo included an Excel spreadsheet summary report for budgeted vs. actual sales tax revenue received from 2001 to 2008.
The spreadsheet that was prepared by the town bookkeeper shows a deficit of actual sales tax revenue vs budget of $144,258.54 in 2007 and $482,537.32 deficit in 2008.
Even though the town had already hired a financial consultant in 2007 who was, according to his billing, being paid $150 an hour to oversee the budget process and even though the town is audited every year by an outside firm; there appear to have been no "red flags" after this report was received in August 2008. Instead, the 2009 budget was adopted to include the same sales tax revenue projection for 2009 as was budgeted for 2008...$5,500,000.
The deficits in sales tax revenue for 2007, 2008 and eventually 2009 probably had to be taken out of the "rainy day" fund in order to balance the budget each year.
There can be no excuses made for the fiscal irresponsibility shown during the last administration. They all were sent this memo by the town bookkeeper! This was an intentional cover-up of the increase in spending during the Earle Reed administration and one can only surmise that it was done to "keep the natives from getting restless" until after the deal/borrowing for the business park was complete.
It also calls to question why the bookkeeper did not blow the whistle; she was part of the budget committee putting together the 2009 budget. Did the $71,000+ overtime payment have anything to do with it?
What other tidbits of information will be uncovered in the coming weeks as FOILed emails start rolling in???