Friday, April 29, 2011

Winter Gets A "1"

Curiously, a reading of Jeff Winter’s Letter to the Editor that appears in today’s Spectrum suggests that he doesn’t support the Budget.  Curious, because he spoke in favor of the Budget at last Wednesday’s Town Meeting.

Frankly, whether Mr. Winter supports the Budget or not because of claimed Audit issues or any other issue doesn’t make a twit’s worth of difference to me since I know quite well that his understanding of the Audit and other issues is, on a scale of 1 to 10, a “1.”  And I give him a “1”  because he may actually be one of the very few who has held the Audit in his hands.  Not necessarily read it or understood it but has had physical contact with it.  You get my drift. Knowing his shortcomings and proclivities, I wouldn’t give Mr. Winter’s comments the time of day or dignify them with a response but I fear that some may be lured into believing the mistruths.

Please don’t let his assertions trouble you.  He has misrepresented the contents of the Audit and purposely failed to present its findings in context.  All because he has political aspirations.

The first thing that is very important to understand is that the Audit is “unqualified.”  That means that there is nothing so seriously wrong that might warrant getting a “qualified” audit, one that evidences the existence of serious problems.  

Second, an issue identified by the Auditor relates to the Town’s compliance with GASB 34.    “GASB is a private sector organization formed in 1984 to establish financial accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments. “ “Statement 34” is an “accounting model.”  Simply, GASB 34 requires government-wide accounting versus department-by-department -- real-world -- accounting.   I don’t know of one town in the State that complies with GASB 34 and all that don’t will get statements in their audits about the GASB 34 problem.

Third, the Auditor recommends that every land use board or commission that takes bonds should account for them on an annual basis.  Okay.
Fourth, the Auditor recommends that no portion of a grant be expended without Town Council approval even if it has already accepted the grant.  This may have been a problem where a grant has a fiscal year that is different from that of the Town and, for example, revenue comes in and hasn’t been used and has to be deferred to the Town’s next fiscal year.   The Auditor wants Council approval for that.   No problem.

Fifth, the Auditor raised an issue about the funding for the Ambulance Barn.  Nothing complicated here either.  The Town’s intent was to seek permanent financing for it by June 30 of last year but in May it became clear that more money was needed for the sewer expansion so the two were combined, saving the Town about $75,000 by not going out twice.  The Auditor certainly didn’t complain that there wasn’t an accounting of the funds.

Finally, the Auditor commented about the Town’s IT Department, claiming that the Town’s servers should be in a better location, one that doesn’t allow for as much access by the public.  I thought that was curious so I asked the Town’s IT Director, Kendrick Protzman, about it.  He told me that he hasn’t spoken to the Auditor in about two years and that the servers were moved to a very secure location in the Fall of 2009.   So much for the Auditor’s work – or lack thereof -- on that topic.

The Town is in excellent financial shape and the Board of Finance, Mayor and Town Council support the Budget.  You should, too.  Please ignore the spurious allegations made by this boy who frequently cries wolf and is full of negativity.  For the betterment of the Town, if he has something solid, he should let us all know.  So far, he has nothing because there is nothing.  And that’s going to be his biggest campaign problem.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Single-Stream Recycling Coming to New Milford?

On April 26, HRRA Director Cheryl Reedy sent an e-mail to its member towns announcing the availability of single-stream recycling. 

She wrote, "Single stream recycling...means that you can put all items for recycling in one bag, bin, toter or container.  There's no need to bundle cardboard and newspapers separately.  In addition, [a recycling center can accept] many more items for recycling than it did previously, including all plastics #1 - #7, boxboard, chipboard, junk mail, office paper, books, phone books, milk and juice cartons, etc."

This is a great opportunity for residents and a boon to the environment because it makes recycling a whole lot easier and far more comprehensive.

Together with the installation of a soon-to-be-installed compactor, you can expect dramatic and beneficial changes to the operation of the Recycling Center.   

Thursday, April 21, 2011

State Traffic Commission Approves New Shopping Center

The STC approved the new Route 7 Shopping Center at its Tuesday Meeting.  The details are here.  The item begins on Page 15.  Apparently, this was the final impediment to the commencement of construction.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Board of Finance Sends Budget to Voters Without Change

Tonight, in what appears to be record time, the BOF sent the Town Council Budget to the voters without modification.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jeff Winter: Bothered and Bewildered; Conflicted and Confused

I guess it was a ridiculous thought that the purpose of the Economic Development Commission is to promote the Town of New Milford and to find ways to increase our commercial and industrial tax base.  Ridiculous because its Members tolerate its Vice-Chairman, Jeff Winter, who does just the opposite, launching regular attacks that could have a negative impact on the Town's finances.  Now that he is a newly-registered Democrat, I wonder why Chairman Frank Wargo doesn't do something about his colleague's behavior.

An example.

Nanci Hutson recently reported in the News-Times that Mr. Winter, "questioned the quality and veracity of financial records kept by the town's finance director, Ray Jankowski." Another quote: "I have concerns about the finances in general," Mr. Winter said. "Auditors' findings show me the mayor and Mr. Jankowski are not serious about financial issues and this results in an inefficient use of resources."

Winter, who admitted to the same reporter that "he has political aspirations," could very well discourage rating agencies and investors who don't like this kind of controversy.  Can you imagine the cost to the Town if our Moody's Aa1 drops because of the antics of this ill-informed critic of the Mayor, Council and Finance Department?  Not a pretty thought.

Ill-informed? You bet.

An example.

In a recent FOI request, Mr. Winter cited chapter and verse about certain Bond Anticipation Notes.  To those who are completely uninformed about such topics, the accusations sounded reasonable but there was an immediate response that put the lie to his allegations and he was loathe to admit his mistakes.  This is a recurring theme.  He repeatedly appears before the Town Council and, like the salesman that he is, sounds like there should be some truth to what he is saying.  But no.  When the facts are out, it's just a lot of wind.  Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

So what exactly has Mr. Winter accomplished on the EDC?  I can't find anyone who'll give me one fact.  My guess?  Nothing. But he sure does spout off a lot.  Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I wish that Mr. Winter would focus his energy on the Board of Ed, identifying revenues that it receives that somehow never make it to the General Fund.  I think the Auditors would appreciate his help.  They need all the help that they can get.

Why is Mr. Winter an anti-tax-relief kinda guy?  In another News-Times article, Reporter Nanci Huston wrote, "Winter voiced concern about taking $1.5 million from the town's medical benefits account to reduce the amount residents have to pay in taxes."  This has gotta be a popular statement from a wannabe politico...yes, we all want higher taxes, Jeff.

Oh, well.  Let's get the party started.