Letter: Charlestown’s $3 Million Budget Mistake | Letters to the Editor

Turn turn turn.

Ruth Platner and her political action committee, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, have worked hard to explain the $3 million shortfall in the unrestricted fund balance. It was incorrectly reported to have been there in June 2020.

Yes, Mrs. Platner, many of us in Charlestown are concerned about the $3 million.

The money is not in the unrestricted fund balance (surplus). Period. Ms Platner says this problem is like owning a car and moving it from the driveway to the garage. She claims it’s still your car anyway. But this metaphor breaks down in a very important way. It leaves out the fact that the garage will be locked with your car inside and you won’t be able to take it out to use it.

Taxpayers thought we had $3 million available for the budget process this year, but we don’t. The money is not there.

It is particularly worrying that our internal controls broke down and it took over a year for anyone to notice. This is precisely why we need an independent audit of our internal controls.

The city administrator acknowledged on February 10 that “there was miscommunication/non-disclosure between the auditor and the city treasurer” in 2020 and that there was also a reporting error that happened in 2017 based on the city’s review of itself.

The city’s auditors do not issue an opinion on the city’s internal control. It’s not part of their audit. They indicate this in their letter attached to the audit. Based on a $3 million error in FY2020 and a $275,000 error in FY17, and on the basis that the city had three treasurers in three years, it makes financial sense to have an independent/forensic audit of the city. internal controls.

If it was your personal bank account and your advisor told you you had an extra $3 million to spend and you spent it, then you were told, “Oops, we made a mistake. . You really didn’t have that money to spend,” would you agree with that? I will not do it.

Do you remember that car from Mrs. Platner’s analogy that was parked in the driveway but is now in the garage? Well, it’s gonna cost $3 million to get that car out of the garage.

Whatever off-base, “car in the garage” analogies Ruth and her friends use, that doesn’t replace the $3 million that’s no longer in the unrestricted fund.

Deborah Carney

charlestown

The writer is the president of the Charlestown city council.

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