Letter: Resident raises concerns with how issue handled

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To the editor,

As per the article in the Jan. 24 edition of the Citizens News, there is a nearly $1 million out of balance in the town’s general fund. There is no way of putting this other than to say this appears to be years of gross incompetence at best with a very real possibility of embezzlement of town funds.  

As per our new First Selectman Christopher Bielik, and I quote directly from the Jan. 24 edition of the Citizens News, “Mike Zemaitis, the town’s previous auditor had informed the town last year that the balances did not line up,” Bielik said. “However the town was not informed of the extent of the problem.”

Really? When your auditor states there is an issue with the books not lining up, the very first thing responsible leadership does is quickly work to arrive at the root of the problem and determine how extensive of an issue is being dealt with. To have a representative of the town state that this known issue was not followed up on to closure is disappointing. Indeed, I find it eyebrow-raising.

To then discover that the town is working with a system in which even the opening trial balance figure cannot be reconciled is unconscionable. It is my understanding that some years ago the town was moving from cash-based to an accrual-based accounting methodology. Accrual-based methodology is based upon a two-sided entry. Perhaps this is the system Mr. Bielik speaks of when he mentions that the new system will not allow the one-sided entries the way the old system did? However for now, the issue looms. What are the town’s true balances? Where is/was the oversight? Why is there apparently no one in place with an understanding of basic accounting? Or of basic controls? The most basic of which is a reconciliation of bank accounts to the respective ledger cash balances.

This combined with the recent revelation of costly repairs being needed to the roof of our 12-year-old high school in which no one seemed to know what was going on, or purchases of $700 office chairs just because there seemed to be money left in the budget, just to name a few, make one question the attitude and competency as well as the honesty of those that we entrust the running of the affairs of our town to. 

As it is clear this latest issue occurred over the years and apparently escaped notice or meaningful action on the part of the town representatives responsible, and given that many of the same people have been in place albeit in different roles, perhaps it would be best if they recuse themselves, and the state is called in to review the audit and ensure that the interests of the people of the town of Beacon Falls are protected. For now it is clear this is not the case.

Karl Johnson

Beacon Falls

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