To the Times of Ti:
Recently the State Comptroller’s Office completed a review of towns, counties and some villages to determine what, if any, fiscal stress they may be incurring at this time. Later on this year, the remaining villages and the school districts will have the same review. I received a draft proposal that was sent out before this review took place. That was followed by several meetings in which the comptroller’s staff reviewed the process again. I attended one in Syracuse in May and we were assured by OSC staff that we would be getting a copy to review before any release to the public. At another meeting in Watertown earlier this month, staff from OSC again told those in attendance that municipalities would be seeing the reviews first before any public release of the information.
On June 18, at the Essex County Finance Committee monthly meeting, I went over the process as was told to me concerning municipalities seeing the review first and having a short period of time to review and comment on them back to OSC before they were publicly released.
On June 19, OSC released the full findings without ever sending any advance notice to municipalities that it was coming out, despite comments to the contrary form OSC staff on at least two separate occasions. Obviously, that made me look rather foolish as I had just told the supervisors the day before that they would get it before the public did! Following the release of the findings, the New York State Association of County Treasurers and Finance Officer asked our president to send a letter on our behalf to Comptroller DiNapoli concerning this matter.
For myself, I am not as concerned with the fact this program was taking place, as I welcomed a review of Essex County’s fiscal stress condition. And I am also not concerned with what the Essex County supervisors may have thought of me saying something I thought was true but was really not! As it was, we were rated fairly good compared to other counties.
My biggest concern was the fact that we were not afforded the opportunity to review the score ahead of time and make it available to the board of supervisors in advance of public release! Despite several assurances of being able to have an advanced copy, the comptroller basically lied to us!
Michael G. Diskin,
NACCTFO President - Elect
Essex County Treasurer