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Letter: Not satisfied with Town Council's response to audit

Published 9:18 am, Sunday, May 5, 2013
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I have reviewed the responses by the Town Council Chairman Mark DeWaele pertaining to the town auditor's report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012. The comments are those of our Town Council chairman, who resided as chairman while the material weaknesses, material non-compliance and other accounting irregularities cited were prevalent. It sounds like another Lakeview: "It fell through the cracks."

As an accounting professional let me state: material weakness and non-compliance are serious and change to a different accounting system and management control is not the causative variable. The chairman's comment(s) is (are) window dressing and a non-supportable excuse. Good internal control survives a change in accounting systems and financial management. Bad internal control is not caused by a change in accounting system(s) or a change in financial management. Material weakness and non-compliance also have nothing to do with: "the accounting presentation by this firm as it contrasts to the past firm." All firms report pursuant to Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Generally Accepted Governmental Accounting standards.

Also the excuse that auditors always find management letter issues to substantiate their existence is both incorrect and demeaning. Quite the contrary. Auditors work with their clients to find reasons that items are not material and state how management has responded. The auditors stating in the body of the audit report that there were material weaknesses and non-compliance means the findings are serious. Whether or not the town is in a current healthy position is comforting, however the past inaccuracies definitely cost New Canaanites with a superficially inflated mill rate.

For the Town Council chairman to state "that some of the problems have come from the transition from hiring a new auditor as well as hiring new employees" is scary. No. Material weakness and non-compliance come from people not doing their jobs, in-competence or out-right malfeasance.

We need better financial experience in our legislative branch. In my opinion the legislative branch (7/8ths) is rampant with individuals who have served too long, have no financial expertise and are elected based on popularity. That is a prescription for disaster. Just look at the findings in the auditor's management letter.

Roy Abramowitz

New Canaan