BALLSTON SPA — After the reveal of the financial state in Ballston Spa in October, the village has begun taking the initial steps to remedy the problem. At a Nov. 13 Village Board meeting the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to allow an external accounting firm, BST Accounting, to assess Ballston Spa’s financial situation. The assessment will cost $1,400.
According to Mayor John Romano BST Accounting was one of two accounting firms that responded to the request for proposal (RFP) of many that the village sent.
“We received this proposal from them on Oct. 9, it strikes me that we could have moved forward with this scope a long time ago,” said Noah Shaw, Trustee for the Village of Ballston Spa. He says, “the general concern with respect to any firm for this work is whether the scope of services and hourly rates are appropriate and acceptable,” and adds that contingencies are still being worked through and no decision has been finalized.
At the same meeting the Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee made its first initial report. The committee, made up of town members, were chosen based on discussions with Romano and village residents. Committee members were then proposed to the board and then approved by the mayor. Members include Paul Farnan, Liz Kormos, Pete Martin, Rory O’Connor and chairman Larry Woolbright.
Recommendations made by the committee included retaining an external accounting firm by Dec. 15 to complete an audit of the village finances for fiscal year 2015 through 2018 and provide training for clerks, department heads and a new treasurer in the budget process. The committees also recommended to have the village treasurer attend board meetings, create a monthly analysis and attend all budget workshops.
The committee urged the board toactontheirrecommendationsas soon as possible and before 2019’s budgeting process begins.
An audit conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s office pointed the finger at the treasurer for not maintaining adequate accounting records in a timely manner and failure to file required annual financial reports for the lastfourfiscalyears.Anotherkey findinginthereportnotedthatthe general fund’s unrestricted fund balance decreased from $213,327 as of fiscal year-end 2014 to $30,487 as of fiscal year- end 2018.
The town is still in search for a new treasurer since it was announced on Sept. 6 that the Village Treasurer, Christopher Hickey had resigned. The next day, the village’s deputy treasurer, internal control officer, personnel officer, and compliance officer, Darryl Purinton resigned as well, from all of those titles except internal controls officer, the salary being $68,000. According to a spokesperson from the Comptroller’s office, the office questioned the value of that position given the audit findings.