State set to audit Taghkanic’s books


TAGHKANIC — Last August town Supervisor Betty Young requested an audit of town finances and got what’s called a risk assessment review from the state Department of Audit and Control.

This week Mrs. Young confirmed that the Office of the State Comptroller had recently contacted her and will conduct a full audit of town records for the fiscal year 2009-10. She expects the audit will commence sometime in the next three months.

Mrs. Young disclosed the audit in response to a reporter’s question at the Town Board’s end-of-year end meeting Tuesday night, December 28, just as the board was preparing to adjourn to an executive session.

Last summer, Town Board member Joyce Thompson took a course on town finances offered by the New York Association of Towns and the Office of the State Comptroller. Based on what she learned, Ms. Thompson called for a full audit so that the town would have a more accurate picture of Taghkanic’s financial status.

At the time, the board did not conduct an audit, and research in town records do not indicate that there has been an official accounting statement for the town in the recent past. The state comptroller’s office said last fall it does not have records of an audit of the town’s books in records going back to 2004.

Some in-house investigation followed, which revealed scant resources to fund a much needed new highway garage, a state mandated salt shed, or to replace decrepit Highway Department trucks and repair roads. The internal audit will continue at the January meeting, when the records of the town’s chief financial officer, Supervisor Young, will be examined. These include documents related to the town general fund, the highway fund, and the town’s bank accounts.

State law requires municipalities to conduct an annual internal financial review, which is supposed to take place each year at the town’s year-end meeting. Taghkanic’s own Law #123 requires the same and requires that a written report of the review be included in the minutes.

During the internal audit process conducted on Tuesday night of records kept by the town tax collector, town clerk and two justice courts, those in attendance could watch the Town Board scrutinize documents but could not hear comments made by officials or otherwise follow the process. Ms. Thompson had circulated a guide and questionnaire provided by the state comptroller’s office and suggested that town board members use it to give the process more structure, but she got no cooperation from her colleagues on the board. The only other Democrat on the board, Larry Kaddish, was absent Tuesday due to the illness of a family member.

Town attorney Robert Fitzsimmons, who is paid $150 per hour for travel, attendance at meetings and legal work, sat motionless through the whole hour-long process after delivering a brief report on a new dog licensing law, which requires every who owns a dog to buy a license for the animal costing $10 to $18 dollars each. The law outlines fines to be levied if a dog runs away and has to stay at a local shelter, or if owners or their pets commit other violations. Enforcement depends on the discretion of the town court, said Mr. Fitzsimmons.

After the board finished perusing the town financial records, a budget amendment was passed that allowed $1,943 to be taken from the contingency fund to cover $1,447 worth of recent bills.

The board also authorized a $12,600 payment to the local rescue squad.

Board members then retired to a closed session to discuss insurance proposals before voting on which one to use. The town board voted to retain the Fingar Insurance agency and its current bookkeeper, Brian Fitzgerald.

The board hold its next meting is Monday, January 3 at  6:30 at Town Hall.

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