North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley said today that Board reaction to his disclosures of abuse and mismanagement of town funds misspent on insurance buyouts and coverage of non employees MUST include firm action to reimburse taxpayers and an independent audit of all those receiving health insurance on a yearly basis.
"It is a step in the right direction to act Thursday night to stop the mismanagement and misappropriation of town funds, however, the town bank account has been fleeced by a reckless Supervisor and the Board has a responsibility under State Law to recover all misspent funds" stated Ashley.
Ashley also called on the Town Board to reintroduce a failed Resolution offered earlier this year by Councilman Michaels that would require TWO signatures on town checks providing a safeguard and check on such lawless distribution of town funds. "At the time, the Board voted 4 to 1 not to require a second signature on the checks in a gesture of "trust" of the Supervisor. Now perhaps they understand why this common sense business and accounting practice is needed, especially with this Supervisor." The fact is that had Mr. Desso and the Board passed this, these payments approved by his running mate, Mr. Evers, they could have been prevented.
Ashley also asked why it took Board members months to stop this fleecing of taxpayers. When questioned at one Board meeting as to "who" told employees who were not eligible for buyout checks they could have them anyway, Board members refused to finger their running mate, the Town Supervisor, apparently still trying to protect him. The Democratic Chairman also noted comments by Councilman Desso in the Record that raise questions. "Desso said that the board did not question Wessels' buyout for 2008 because town Supervisor Mark Evers promised it to her when she dropped her coverage. But he said that earlier this year, he (Desso) tried to prevent Strenka's payment. "We asked the supervisor not to pay it, and we asked the comptroller not to ask for it," Desso said, but the check was signed." "It is not enough to simply "ask" as an elected Board member, not to take money because your running mate, the Town Supervisor "promised" someone town money illegally, stated Ashley. You have a responsibility to act.
Ashley also criticized the Supervisor for apparently forgetting that for 3 of the past 5 years, Mark Evers was standing guard as our Town Supervisor, allowing vender Thomas Murley to fleece taxpayers who paid his health insurance. "But this is the same Supervisor who dished out an $83,000 Christmas check in December 2006 to his friends in the Conservative Party that hold the Water 14 contract after being told there was no more bond money, so how can we expect him to realize that the responsibility to prevent misappropriations of town funds is ultimately his? That money is being reimbursed to the General Fund with other misspent funds to the contractor totaling $269, 000, because of a vote to pay the contractor another MILLION DOLLARS for a Water 14 court settlement. All this overspending was on Evers watch.
Ashley called on the Board to require Murley and all others who received town funds illegally, to reimburse the town. He also voiced support for a cap on further insurance buyouts no greater than 50% of the current Single Coverage premium and a requirement that one MUST be enrolled in the insurance to receive any buyout. Otherwise taxpayers will continue to pay twice for insurance of at least two employees who now "double dip", receiving their insurance from other public sector jobs while grabbing a buyout here.