Deeper Concerns Found in Close Reading of Fishkill Audit, Esssential Services in Jeopardy
Deeper Concerns Found in Close Reading of Fishkill Audit, Essential Services in Jeopardy
By Michael Boyajian
A closer reading of the New York State Comptroller’s audit of the Town of Fishkill has revealed some deeper concerns than had been initially reported.
First, the Town did not have a multi-year financial plan in place at the time of the audit which is customary and highly recommended for municipalities like the Town of Fishkill. The Town now claims that they do have a plan but it seems unlikely that it will be of any substance having been hashed together virtually overnight in response to the audit.
The $4.9 million deficit is equal to 35% of the overall Town budget of $14 million. This is a major concern that rises to dangerous levels when one considers that the Town must by law pay off a $1.8 million note this year that it issued to get through 2009. This would push shortfalls up to 46% of the overall budget. This is almost half the budget.
The audit also found that when control revenues and financing sources did not meet estimates and control expenditures exceeded available appropriations the Town did not act to amend its spending plan. This supports the allegation that the Town has been on an unchecked spending spree like a teenager with a new credit card only there was no spending cap on this card.
The Town also has significant cash flow problems causing reliance on inter fund loans. Also, existence of operating deficits is evidence that monitoring was not done effectively. These chronic fund deficits were caused by poor budget protections and caused extensive cash flow problems. Furthermore loans resulted in taxpayer inequities. The Town is now at risk of not being able to provide essential services. Finally, the Town does not have a system in place to safe guard cash receipts or for cash management and this could lead to the risk of loss or misuse.
So though no criminality has yet to be discovered a high degree of utter incompetence is obvious and blame for this falls squarely on the Town Supervisor Joan Pagones who ultimately controls the entire budget process and whose budget mishandling now jeopardizes the basic operations of the entire Town.
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