Supervisor responds to Keene audit

An official from Keene says recent media reports surrounding an audit into the town's financial practices were misleading and didn't paint the full picture.

The state Comptroller's Office reported in a March audit that eight of the town's 23 active bank accounts were unnecessary.

Keene Town Supervisor Bill Ferebee says the audit made it sound like the town had 23 separate checking accounts.

"The general public does not understand municipal accounting, and the way our accounting practices were set up at that time, there were savings accounts for [all the departments]," Ferebee said. "The general public, by reading 23 accounts, thinks that there's 23 checkbooks in the town hall, which is a misconception."

Auditors also reported that not all of the town's accounts required the supervisor's signature, and that three accounts contained signatures from individuals not authorized to sign.

"The bank that we use should not have allowed that to happen, it has been corrected and they do not open any more accounts by anybody from in the town of Keene other than myself and the deputy supervisor," Ferebee said. "It was just an ongoing practice, it was the way it's always been done. So you know it just gives that whole misconception of things just going crazy in the town hall, which it's not."

Ferebee emphasized that the audit did not find a single instance where funds were misappropriated.

In an April 26 letter to the state Comptroller's Office, Ferebee said that the town had corrected the deficiencies found in the audit. Ferebee says the town now uses a new accounting system, among other changes.

"Basically what we did was we implemented a new accounting program that puts all the funds into one account, it's called a multi-funds account," Ferebee said, "The new computer program tracks all of the different [departments], while keeping all the actual money in one account."

Ferebee said he asked the state to conduct an audit on the town when he first took office in 2006, but that the state turned down the request.

"At that time the Comptroller's Office said the focus was to audit school districts and that they didn't have the staff to just reply to a request for an audit," he said.

Now that the state has finally conducted an audit, Ferebee said the town has been able to get into conformance with the standards of the Comptroller's Office.

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