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.