Despite Savings, Bloomingdale Council May Keep Previous Auditor
Council agrees not to have Huntley serve on Budget Committee.
The Bloomingdale Council and Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy may never agree on exactly what the budget shortfalls from last year were. But something else they could not agree on Tuesday night was who should be auditing borough financials as the council considered opting to have last year's Auditor Dieter Lerch appointed again, despite a $7,000 savings that was included in the bid from another auditor.
The discussion began with a presentation by Chief Financial Officer Donna Mollineaux who stood at the microphone to answer questions after Dunleavy told the council that after receiving annual audit figures from Lerch, the borough will have an over $307,000 budget shortfall going into 2012. Included in that figure is money that was allocated as emergency funding last year for social security and to pay back repairs for damage from Hurricane Irene, as well as unpaid bills and $170,000 that was depleted from surplus. Republican Council Members Linda Shortman and Glenn Schiffman argued that the money spent from surplus should not be included in the figure, as Schiffman said the borough has been spending money from surplus for the last five years.
But Mollineaux and Dunleavy warned that the borough must come up with ways to bring in new revenue in 2012 in order to support the loses from last year.
"Unless you're planning on getting rid of whole departments, then you have to find a way to supplement this budget," Mollineaux said.
One way to supplement the budget included a $7,000 savings in cost for a borough auditor presented in a bid by an auditor in contrast to Lerch's $35,000 bid. Shortman said Lerch verbally agreed to only charge the borough $33,000 but since it was not in writing, the council would have only been able to vote on the $35,000 included in the bid. The council ended up voting to table the measure, with Democrat Councilmen John D'Amato and Ray Yazdi voting against it.
"Why are you so attached to this one guy?" D'Amato asked the council majority. "We have a problem. We have no money. I have no dedication to anyone in this town."
The majority council members did not give an explanation for the vote to table, but Yazdi said he did not feel it was fair taxpayers foot the bill for the more expensive auditor.
"I believe the four of you should pay for it," he said.
He also then advised the public that he would be going around with a recall petition asking the public to sign to force the majority members out of office.
Dunleavy also asked the council to discuss whether they still planned to have former Councilwoman and Budget Committee Chairwoman Linda Huntley serve on the borough's Budget Committee, as previously suggested by the majority. During disucussions of the shortfalls, Yazdi indicated that Huntley and Lerch were primarily to blame for the borough's financial situation. But Schiffman said the majority was no longer considering having Huntley serve on the committee.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the council voted on the appointment, when they actually voted to table the appointment for further review of the auditors' contracts.