Previous town bookkeeper weighs in on finance issue

DAYTON — It was standing room only at the Dayton Town Board’s meeting earlier this month when discussions became heated from the audience. Several questions were asked at the start and throughout such as the lack of agendas for attendees to follow along with and the taking of roll call.

Dayton Town Supervisor Angie Mardino-Miller squashed most of the comments, responding that she hadn’t provided agendas before due to the lack of attendance, but now saying she would if the turnout remains the same at future meetings. She also made it clear that she was in control of the meeting and that audience members needed to keep quiet, at least until the public portion at the end, to allow for the discussion of board business.

Alleged financial issues were addressed once more, this time with previous Town Bookkeeper Barb Scott in attendance, trying to understand what info it could be that the current administration is missing.

Mardino-Miller stated that there have been multiple meetings to discuss the finances and the insistence that the town provide a back-up system for current bookkeeping firm Bahgat & Laurito-Bahgat; the board is saying they can’t get a hold of it though.

“As I stated in the letter to you, I provided everything that I had,” Scott began. “Copies of everything at the end of December, Ruth (Bennett, town clerk) acknowledged receipt of that. There’s numerous reports and ledgers there. Mark (Smith, previous town supervisor) as you mentioned, gave me the data, I prepared the report, so anything that Mark had I should have had.

“I can’t imagine what you could be missing. To continually see that we have been lacking or misreporting or missing funds is just inconceivable to me, especially when we did have a state audit in February.”

Mardino-Miller insisted that it wasn’t a state audit that took place then though Scott said that it was.

“The (state) Comptroller has a website and you can go on and see that our last audit was in 2013 and 2008 before then,” Mardino-Miller said. “I have continuously picked up the phone and said come down here, we have hired a firm who wants all of the back-up information and they told me on the phone we cannot tell you that we can come and we cannot tell you if we can come, when we’re coming.

“The annual updated report is not the state audit, that is why we want the Comptroller down here, because we can’t say where that money is. Is it poor budgeting? We don’t know. Is it taking money out of a budget that it wasn’t setup for? We don’t know,” Mardino-Miller went on. “Not without the backup that we’ve asked for. The attorney wrote Mark Smith a letter asking for that, we got told that he has three businesses on the same program, two personal and the town business and that’s all that’s been going on about these finances. The truth is there is an excess of $100,000 that we don’t know without that information.”

Scott went on to say that there was indeed a state audit conducted for the year end 2017 but Mardino-Miller replied that that audit was for Scott’s inputted information alone.

“You cannot fudge the state’s audit, it is very complex, I could not just make-up numbers,” Scott said.

Mardino-Miller insisted that she was not making an accusation of Scott, just that the hired firm is asking for the audit. She went on to point out that Scott has been very helpful to her and the board, giving them anything that she had ever asked for.

Scott however was confused as to why if there is something missing that no one ever came back to her to ask if perhaps something was accidentally forgotten.

“Other than any communication that you (Mardino-Miller) and I have had since after the annual report was completed, I’ve had no questions from the board,” she said. “I’ve had no letters, no communication of any kind, regarding finances of anything that I did as a bookkeeper. In looking back at the articles that are suggesting there’s missing information and there’s questions, it seems that you would have contacted me.”

Scott went on to say that she had provided hard copies of every ledger, of every worksheet, everything that she had as of the end of December, which is something that she has done every year for the eight years she was bookkeeper.