At the start of the town board discussion, Tyksinski made a pitch for the cost savings that might be realized with a comptroller...though it might not be apparent to some, we certainly realized that his figures were slightly skewed. He even took a couple of 'pot shots' at the Observer Dispatch.
After Tyksinski finished, it was time for town board discussion. Councilman Backman mentioned Town Law Article 3, Section 34 [Powers and Duties of Town Comptroller] whereby according to that law, the Comptroller "shall be the town board of the town during the continuance of such office" as far as the auditing of the bills. Meaning the town board would no longer have any say as to what bills get paid...Larry Adler/Shumaker.
Our opinion...The last thing this town needs right now is a Comptroller who has the power to usurp the town board regarding finances! What we need is a budget officer that is believable and above reproach...much like the one we had prior to Supervisor Tyksinski taking office.
Tyksinski tried to sway the board members to his way of thinking using arguments that only became more ridiculous as the discussion continued; even Town Attorney Cully tried to convince members that Councilman Backman was not fully aware of the law...that is until Councilman Reynolds stated that he agreed with Councilman Backman after a conversation he had with the Association of Towns. If you read Observer Dispatch reporter Bryan Ackerman's blog, you will note that even the State Comptroller agreed with Councilman Backman.
Here is the comptroller discussion portion of the meeting:
Back in January 2011, shortly after Tyksinksi took office, D'Arcangelo was hired by the town board to complete the 2009-2010 town audit by March 31, 2011 in accordance with Town Law.
On April 28, 2011, almost a month after the audit was supposed to be finished, we FOILed the Town Audit for 2009 & 2010 so that we could get a clue as to the financial condition of the Town of New Hartford.
According to the Town Clerk, we were to be given an answer to our FOIL no later than Friday, May 20, 2011...three weeks response time for a report that is supposed to be on file in the Town Clerk's office and turned over to anyone who walks in her office and requests it. No FOIL is needed to review financial documents that are on file in the town clerk's office.
But we decided to wait anyway. We waited...no answer was forthcoming. On May 20th, we were in the town clerk's office on another matter and we inquired as to the status of our FOIL request for the town audit. It was clear that the town clerk did not have a copy on file; she said she would get back to us.
We waited some more...May 26th, we were again in her office on other business and asked again. This time she called the Supervisor's office and his secretary said the audit was not done so we requested that the town clerk respond to us in writing as she should have already done prior to our visit.
The next day [May 27, 2011] we received an email from the town clerk stating:
Per your recent inquiry because the date of May 20th has passed for the Town Clerk's Office to obtain a copy of the referenced audit, this is to inform you that the Town does not have possession of such document as of this date and therefore, cannot provide you with same at this time.Very craftily worded...not that the audit is not done as the Supervisor's secretary told the town clerk, but that "the Town does not have possession of such document"...a document that by law and by contract to D'Arcangelo is supposed to be completed by March 31, 2011. Almost sounds like the email was written by an attorney.
You may wish to re-submit your FOIL request in the near future.
Gail Wolanin Young
Fact is, other than the recently released State Comptroller's audit which was less than stellar, the town has not released town financial statements audited by an outside firm since the 2008 Financial Audit that was done by Barone & Howard. By the time of the release of the 2008 Audited Financials, we already learned that our "rainy day fund" was depleted to the tune of $2.8 million.
Given the track record of some town officials in recent weeks...we, as taxpayers, should be concerned...starting right now!