In recent days some people have expressed some concern about the way WestHELP funds have been treated in the town's budget. I would like to address that question.
When we did the sublease it was agreed by everybody, including the entire Town Board,that grants would be made to the Valhalla School District, the Fairview Fire Department and the Mayfair Knollwood community. How this would be treated on the budget documents and accounted for is something we all left to the Town's Comptroller. None of us are accountants.
We were then told that the grant to the civic association was not legal and therefore we didn't pay it. But because the Town Board had unanimously approved an agreement and had made a commitment to help out the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood for supporting the 108 room homeless shelter, we decided to keep that money aside and looked for ways to honor our commitment to the community. For me it was simply a way to do what we all, the entire Town Board, had promised to do.
Now I am told that this was wrong. But, two Comptroller's before Comptroller Jim Heslop, handled it this way. I may be the chief financial officer of the town, but I don't maintain the books. This is done by a professional staff and I don't try to second-guess them. If it was the wrong way to do it, then it will be fixed. But no one can say that I did anything other than to try to do what the Town Board agreed to do all along. All the members of the Town Board looked at the budget and the Town Board changed lots of things in the budget documents in previous years but they never changed anything about the way the WestHelp money was treated.
As I have said often, I don't act alone and I am not a dictator. Everything that I know about this all the other Town Board members knew as well. If I made a mistake the entire Town Board made a mistake. If I am accountable, the entire Town Board is accountable, as well as the Comptroller, and the outside auditors, who approved what had been done. All payments and disbursements relating to WestHelp have been recorded, accounted for and audited annually. Only funds authorized by the Town Board in the form of resolutions, have been released to the Valhalla school district and Fairview Fire District. In addition to being audited by our independent auditors the Town provided the NY State Comptroller's office with all documents concerning WestHelp in the summer of 2004. We received a few telephone calls from the auditors in 2004 but heard nothing from them regarding our accounting of WestHelp funds in 2004 or in 2005. We received a draft report from the Comptroller's office regarding WestHelp this week and have not met with the Comptroller's office to discuss as of this writing.
I do not believe in closed government. Every aspect of the WestHelp partnership has been discussed publicly. All funds distributed have been approved at public meetings and citizens have had the opportunity to comment about the distribution of the WestHelp funds at every meeting. There is no secrecy concerning WestHelp and the partnership.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
I do not believe in closed government. Every aspect of the WESTHELP partnership was discussed publicly. All funds distributed have been approved at public meetings. All dollars have been accounted for. There is no secrecy concerning WESTHELP and the partnership.