ESSEX-The former Essex town supervisor in the middle of the recent New York State Comptroller's Office audit of the office wants to know why he wasn't involved.
"I found it strange that the auditors never once called me or wrote me to ask questions about the situation," Ron Jackson, who served as the Essex supervisor until the end of 2009, said. "This does not show to me to be a very good audit."
Jackson said that along with not being contacted himself, his clerk, and members of the board were also not contacted.
"They did not talk to the board as far as I know and their talk with Lois (Sayward) was limited," Jackson said.
The comptroller's report, released June 13, said that there were several discrepancies in the general fund and sewer funds, as well as cash receipts at the Essex Transfer Station and the Essex Water District, costing the town over $22,000 in revenues that were owed to them.
"The sewer advances were done as the auditors told us to do it," Jackson said. "If they would have asked me about it, I would have told them that."
Jackson did say that there was a mistake made in the $22,000 discrepancy in transfer station tickets, but that since, the error has been repaid.
"No money was siphoned off or is missing," Jackson said. "These are accounting errors."
Jackson also said that the discrepancy was a matter that fell into the town clerk's office, not the supervisor's clerk.
"That was handled through me and Audrey (Hoskins, town clerk)," Jackson said. "It had nothing to do with Lois. It is there in the audit."
Jackson said that some wording in the audit could have been worded better.
In responding to who was over the transfer station situation, current town board member Sharon Boisen replied through e-mail to the question.
"Please refer to page 3 of the OSC Audit report," she stated, then quoting the report:
"The Town Board consists of the The Supervisor, and four council members. The Board is responsible for the general oversight of the Town's operations and finances. The Supervisor, as Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for the receipt, disbursement, and custody of Town moneys, maintaining accounting records, and providing financial reports to the Board.
"The Board and Supervisor have not provided adequate oversight of the Town's financial operations to ensure that Town assets were adequately safeguarded. The lack of management and oversight has contributed to the Town having incomplete and inaccurate accounting records and inadequate internal controls over cash receipts." Boisen then quoted page 12:
"The Town lacked comprehensive written policies and procedures to provide adequate guidance and internal controls," followed by, "In response to your question regarding transfer site ticket responsibilities ... it is what it is,' later saying over the phone, "The bottom line is that it is the town board's responsibility to have policies and procedures in place."
Jackson kept to his belief that if the Comptroller's Office would have included him in the audit, they would have found what they needed.
"If they would have asked the person who created the records, they would have gotten them," Jackson said. "The fact that (current supervisor) Sharon (Boisen) did not know how to access them, well, I'm sorry about that."
"Financial records should be available to state auditors who use them as the basis for audits," Comptroller's Office spokesperson Kate Gurnett said in an e-mailed statement. "Also, the bookkeeper was there under the prior supervisor."
In a phone call, Gurnett added that, "the books should be the books, regardless of whoever is the supervisor when the audit is done."
Boisen said that she did not know what files would not have been accessible to the comptroller, although she did say that some items that were requested from the clerk to the supervisor and not provided have since been tracked down.
"I have found some information that was, at the time, not provided by the supervisor's clerk," Boisen said. "At the time the comptroller requested the items, they were told that we did not have that."
Boisen said that she supports the audit and the way in which it was conducted.
"They did everything that they should have done to try and get an accurate account of what was going on in the supervisor's office," Boisen said. "The supervisor is the chief financial officer and 100 percent responsible for the finances of the town."
Jackson also said that he was upset that he was not given a copy of the report from the town.
"One would think that the supervisor would give a copy of the report to those involved," Jackson said. "When I was supervisor, anything that mentioned Bill Drummond or anyone else, I sent them a copy of that letter or whatever it was. The comptroller or the supervisor did not do that. It's about common courtesy."
Copies of the report can be viewed at the Essex town hall during regular office hours or online at www.essexnewyork.org or www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2011/essex.pdf.