Last night, a majority of the Greenburgh Town Board decided to make a request of the Town Supervisor for some professional assistance into a political issue. The Town of Greenburgh will lose the services of the present Town Comptroller, Mr. James Heslop, effective Friday, October 12, 2007.
As Town Supervisor, I have a statutory responsibility to the taxpayers of the Town to prepare and submit to the taxpayers a preliminary budget for 2008 by October 31, 2007. Our Town Comptroller, who has played an important role in this process , will not be available to me for much of the time the budget is being prepared. I requested the services of a particular individual (at a cost of up to $5000), and instead the Town Board asked that we issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for such assistance. That proposal, which is a time-consuming process and will not yield the professional expertise that I need for the short-term, makes little sense. I need the services immediately – I am required to submit a budget to the Town Board in one month. I requested the retention of this individual for a variety of reasons:
- His educational and professional background includes a BA in Accounting from Queens College of the City University of New York, an MBA in Finance from the Columbia university Graduate School of Business, he's been a practicing CPA in the State of New York and he has held various senior financial and accounting positions with entities that are much bigger than the Town of Greenburgh.
- On the public service side, he is a former elected Trustee of one of the Villages within the Town and in that capacity he has a very public record of having saved the taxpayers of that community approximately $300,000 annually out of a much smaller budget of about $7,000,000 vs. the $70,000,000 plus budget of the Town of Greenburgh. He has been through a governmental budget setting process twice in this capacity.
- Positive comments about this individual were received by myself from individuals from both unincorporated Greenburgh and our Villages and many of those are not or have not been my supporters. In fact, this individual supported my opponent in the 2005 Democratic primary. He has spoken at Town Board meetings and has been critical of many of our budget practices in the past. I’m not looking for a yes man. I want someone to help me find ways to cut spending and reduce the impact of any tax hike. I am looking to retain the services of someone who is familiar with the town budget since the entire contract will be only for a few weeks.
The request was for a limited amount of funding of $5,000 at $75 per hour or about 65 hours of his time, hardly an excessive rate when one looks at a variety of professional service providers. His findings, any work product and report would belong to the entire public, not just the Town Supervisor or the Town Board. The other members of the Town Board approved an engagement of a law firm , not an accounting firm, back in January to review the accounting related to WESTHELP with no RFP and rates at up to $475 per hour.In my view, the taxpayers of Greenburgh would be beneficially served by the Town Board reversing its position and approving this engagement immediately. I should also point out that following the departure of Mr. Heslop, the Town will not be expending the balance of the Comptroller’s salary.