I wasted time, and now doth time waste me… Shakespeare, Richard II
If you’ve been reading any Newburgh news that’s been sandwiched between the Hurricane reports the past few days, you know about the audit that was issued by the State Comptroller’s Office this past Thursday. The document is 31 pages in its entirety, can be downloaded from the link highlighted above, and has been summarized by both the Record and midhudsonnews.com (in both cases, though, relying on the press release and Herbek’s righteous retort.)
For my part, I would like to draw your attention to the LDC. The State Comptroller points out that the city’s hired CPA firm was unable to complete the 2007 audit because they “lacked the records necessary for the CPA to complete the audit” (page 8.) A second auditor completed audits for 2008 through 2010, but while “the second CPA was able to complete the audits and express an opinion, the CPA issued a disclaimer that financial information relating to the Local Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency was not included, as the records were not available.”
Herbek mixes up the public authorities
In his letter of response August 14, Herbek addresses various items he disputes on behalf of the city. And on the point of the problem with the annual auditors being incapable of rendering an opinion, and/or noting that LDC and IDA records were not available, he offers this recommended revision to the State Comptroller’s audit:
Although the second CPA was able to complete the audits and express an opinion, they issued a “qualified” opinion due to the omission of financial information from the Local Development Corporation (LDC) and Industrial Development Agency (IDA), whose records were not available. It also should be noted that the City’s request for State legislation to dissolve the LDC has been pending for several years…
Actually, the city government, including the IDA, manager Herbek and city council, have collectively totally ignored the Newburgh Local Development Corporation. For years the Authorities Budget Office would send a letter to the LDC stating it was out of compliance (no board has officially met as the LDC in years) and it would be promptly ignored by all of the above parties. Despite the rare statement made by an IDA board member that a meeting of the LDC was in the works, nothing ever happens. Herbek has simply mistaken the LDC with the NCDA, which was in fact dissolved two days after he wrote his letter, on August 16.
Ignoring the LDC, even though it puts the council and IDA board members at risk of censure, since they are technically still members of the LDC board according to its articles of incorporation, is likely to continue.
Other thoughts, briefly
- Newburgh should be ashamed of this audit, with its crazy practices, city council members who admit they don’t understand the financial statements, and no attempt to get the proper training for the Newburgh comptroller and staff as well as the council. It seems obvious that if a council member is complaining about this to the state comptroller’s office, that he is probably not the only one who can’t read the financial statement, there are others on the council in the same boat and training is needed. If the council is to avoid being slammed for poor oversight, they need to learn how to give good oversight. Simply hiring Dwight Hadley as a financial consultant is not sufficient.
- Re. the Cable Service Franchise Fees: the city should bring back the committee that never was, but that is in our charter, §C15.20. Cable Television Advisory Committee.