Kasprzak questions lack of documentation for predecessor's spending

PLATTSBURGH Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak has given former Mayor Daniel L. Stewart until Feb. 1 to provide information regarding inadequately documented expenditures during his term in office. According to Mayor Kasprzak, a preliminary draft of an audit of the citys finances conducted in January by the state Office of the State Comptroller revealed several discrepancies in spending by the former mayor from Jan. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2006. The audit prompted Mayor Kasprzak to seek a second audit, examining city expenditures as far back as 2003. During our research we found that there was several thousand dollars worth of non- or unreceipted expenses, said Mayor Kasprzak. In a 12-page business and travel expense analysis furnished to the media Wednesday morning by Mayor Kasprzak, the report lists page after page of expenses lacking explanations or proper receipts. Expenses on the former mayors city-issued Platinum Plus credit card range from higher-end expenses such as hotel stays and airfare, which were listed at $5,119.16 and $2,921.80, respectively, down to items such as money for car washes and postage, at $7 and $5.40. One line is specifically listed as ???, at a net cost to the city of $572.35. A notation for the line item in the report reads, Without receipts, these items are unclear as to nature of expense as well as purpose. Expenditures also included the city footing the bill for a trip the former mayor took with a private citizen to Duke University, whom Mayor Kasprzak later learned to be a member of a city waterfront committee. Mayor Kasprzak said he could find no documentation as to the purpose of the trip or if it was authorized by the City Common Council and stated the expenses were noted to be reimbursed by the university. To his knowledge, no reimbursement has been received from any party to date for the trip, said Mayor Kasprzak. Overall, $10,430.38 is considered improperly documented by the former mayor, said Mayor Kasprzak. I am not accusing former Mayor Dan Stewart of anything illegal, said Mayor Kasprzak. I simply, as I think the taxpayers would like to know, and especially those in this administration, would like to see documentation of the $10,430.38 that is unreceipted. In all fairness, Mayor Kasprzak said, there may have been last minute expenses incurred by the former mayor and meeting that did not get prior approval by the council. Mayor Kasprzak further said that in review of the expenditure analysis, the expenses were not documented and receipted in the fashion I think they should be. In a letter Mayor Kasprzak said was mailed to the former mayor, dated Dec. 16, Mayor Kasprzak detailed the situation to Mr. Stewart, asking for an explanation by Feb. 1. We just want clarification and documentation of these unreceipted expenses, said Mayor Kasprzak. I cant tell you why this happened. I cant tell you why theres no receipts or documentation. I cant tell you why things werent questioned. Im disappointed that this has happened. Mayor Kasprzak said he was further unsure as to why Mr. Stewart was reimbursed, without properly documented evidence, by then City Chamberlain James Buran. A city chamberlain should make the appropriate decisions, if it gets to him or her, as to what is legitimate city business and what isnt, said Mayor Kasprzak. It doesnt make sense to any of us here because thats not how we do business. Mayor Kasprzak stated he would not comment on what legal recourse the city has, if any, if Mr. Stewart cannot produce documentation or an explanation of the expenses. He also stated the council has not examined if former City Chamberlain Burans approvals would be called into question as well. The taxpayers of the City of Plattsburgh deserve to be repaid if something has not been documented or receipted, said Mayor Kasprzak. When reached for comment following the press conference, Mr. Stewart stated he had not yet received the Mayor Kasprzaks letter or any other correspondence from the city regarding the matter. It is very telling when you consider the mayor has been in the public media with this issue for months that he has never once picked up the phone to call me or sent a letter to me yet, Mr. Stewart said via telephone Wednesday afternoon. Yet, he has been in the public with all these different issues. I feel he really has overstepped some lines in doing that. Mr. Stewart further scolded Mayor Kasprzak for taking the findings of the state Comptrollers preliminary report public something which is not traditionally done, he said. The report is meant to be utilized by the municipality to try to answer the questionable items that may exist, said Mr. Stewart, No one ever contacted me for that type of information, rather [Mayor Kasprzak] went to the media with it. To me, it is slanderous and Im tired of it and in due time, I will be responding formally to the City of Plattsburgh. Mr. Stewart said he would not comment on the 12-page report furnished by Mayor Kasprzak until he had the document in hand. He further remarked the mayors Feb. 1 deadline is of no consequence to him and that he will fully examine the documents that have been mailed to him. I can tell you [Mayor Kasprzak] has been working on this for 21 months. I will take the time that I feel is necessary for responding,said Mr. Stewart. During the citys research, Mayor Kasprzak said no other department heads or city officials raised red flags with their expenditures.

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