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Murray officials resort to personal attacks, side-stepping of issues with water districts

Posted 22 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Editor:

Upon graduation from the College of Business at Montana State University the first time, I worked for the Montana State Department of Highways Accounting Division, Auditing Department. I may be a “Political Neophyte” as the Town of Murray arrogantly claims, but I know numbers and what they represent.

The Murray Councilpersons indicated the water districts undergo intense scrutiny by independent auditors, Rural Development and the NYS Comptroller’s Office. The independent auditor looks at cash in and cash out or basically balances the books not looking for over taxation. Rural Development loans money not looking for over taxation either and the Comptroller’s Office is the only high ranking official reporting agency referred to by the Town of Murray.

Unfortunately for Murray, the NYS Comptroller’s Audit Report (click here), found significant accounting irregularities, see page 4 paragraph 2. “THE USE OF DEBT PROCEEDS TO PAY OPERATING COSTS VIOLATES THE LOCAL FINANCE LAW AND THE COVENANTS MADE TO THE PURCHASERS OF THE TOWN’S DEBT.”

I merely repeated what the highest ranking accounting official in the State discovered during their audit of the Town of Murray’s Water Districts. Why is the Murray Town Board denying the written facts of the Comptroller? How embarrassing for them to even reference the Comptroller in light of the scathing audit report.

The taxes levied on your property are for the loan repayment only, if the Town wants to place an additional tax on your property for water loss or maintenance that is to be shown as a separate line item. Each water district stands alone and separate funds are to remain in each.

Although I’m extremely disappointed with the Town’s side stepping response, they may have indicated they are over taxing the districts. They have a reserve fund. That’s reasonable but how are they funding it and where are the funds?? What are they doing with the money? The comptroller stated on page 7, “$100,000.00 in bond proceeds was improperly used to pay operating expenditures.”

The Town has used water district loan money to run the operations of the Town, it’s that simple and it’s against Local Finance Law. Furthermore, you borrowed the money to pay for water line infrastructure, not running the operations of the Town.

The Town of Murray could have avoided all this dirty laundry by simply being more open and honest with its operations. It’s disappointing to me that the Highway & Water Superintendent hasn’t commented on this controversial issue plaguing his departments.

All we have heard is that the political hopeful is plagiarizing the Comptroller’s findings. (LOL) The only defense the Town of Murray board can express is a personal character attack and avoidance of the issue. It would be much easier to simply answer the questions and correct any problems. I’m simply advocating for better Town Governance. It’s time for the Town of Murray Board to realize that the taxpayer deserves a little more respect.

Joe Sidonio
Murray