A response to the Essex audit

While there are certainly needs for improvement in our books, there is also room for improvement in the auditor's office and the auditing process as well. When a town asks for help, help needs to be provided. Our auditor huddled mostly with one person and they need to expand that. I live 1 mile away and could have easily answered several questions that the auditor spent hours, if not days, researching if he had asked. I have talked to several Town Board members and they spent little time with the auditor. The report is also poorly worded and misleading. The auditor correctly criticizes the smallest error by us and then makes several errors in his report.

The auditor correctly states that the Town Board audited the town justice and the town clerk yearly, but incorrectly states we failed to audit the tax collector. The town clerk and the tax collector are the same person so yes, she was audited. The county audits the tax collector each year as well since her final report to them must balance exactly. The auditor also said we failed to audit the supervisor, supervisor's clerk, and the code officer. The town clerk/tax collector and the town justice are the only offices that handle and record money and both are audited by the Town Board. There are no other transactions to audit other than those presently being audited.

The state wants towns to repay any interdepartmental loans each year. There are no state grants for "seed money" for planning. It is impossible to plan a project of any size, receive funding, get permits and start construction in one year. In the case of a sewer district, you can't even form a district in one year. Where does the money come from to pay that loan back in one year? Infrastructure planning is a long term investment for a town and should be treated as such. New York needs to look closer at this requirement or help towns financially with planning.

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