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Follow-up: Proper Accounting of WestHELP Money Needed
Release Date: June 26, 2007

I don't expect to go back and forth with Supervisor Feiner regarding his role as the town's Chief Financial Officer and the $1,448,349.11 unspent WestHELP funds from 2005 and prior years that is in a bank account but not accounted for in the town's annual budgets.  However, his response is so blatantly, easily verifiably, false that a detailed response is needed.  The work session to which he referred in his reply was audiotaped by a member of the public who attended the meeting and that audiotape is being transcribed.

Contrary to what the Supervisor claimed in his reply, at no time did the Town Council or anyone else at the meeting state that unspent WestHELP money should be put in the B budget.  The Supervisor is not being truthful.

At no time did Supervisor Feiner state at the work session that he wanted $1,448,349.11 of WestHELP money moved to the General (A) Fund, as he claims in his reply.  The Supervisor is not being truthful.  In fact, the tape will confirm that I repeatedly asked the Supervisor how much he wanted moved and he refused to respond at the meeting.

The tape will also show that I repeatedly asked the Supervisor where the money was currently accounted for, and he refused to respond at the meeting.

Supervisor Feiner should be ashamed of himself for stating that "Sheehan and the others wanted to put it into the B budget, in violation of the law" when no such statements were made.  It is unfortunate the Supervisor has decided to accuse fellow board members of wanting to violate the law.  The audiotape of the meeting will confirm Supervisor Feiner’s accusations are false, as can the Town Comptroller and others present at the meeting.

Supervisor Feiner also stated that I said he has the money in the bank so he can use it for "flexible" purposes, which is not what I wrote.  What I actually wrote was: "In a November 10, 2006, article in The Journal News, Supervisor Feiner is reported as saying that he didn't include $500,000 of the funds in the budget because he wanted to retain flexibility on how the money is spent.  The amount that currently has this "flexibility" is $1,448,349.11."  Specifically, the article, entitled "Greenburgh has $500,000 saved up from WestHELP rent," states: "Supervisor Paul Feiner, the panel’s fifth member, said he did not include the funds in the budget because he wants to retain flexibility on how the money is spent."  The revelation that the Supervisor wanted flexibility in spending WestHELP money that is in a bank account but not in a budget did not originate with me.

The actions of the Town Council (Eddie Mae Barnes, Steve Bass, Diana Juettner and myself) regarding disclosing WestHELP money speaks for itself.  When Supervisor Feiner chose to not properly account for WestHELP funds in the 2007 budget he submitted to the public last fall, the Town Council modified his printed budget to properly and fully account for the 2007 WestHELP money in the General (A) Fund.  The Town Council’s actions were noted in a November 16, 2006 The Journal News article, entitled "Greenburgh Town Council orders disclosure of all WestHELP income."

The Town Comptroller, consistent with the Town Council's actions for the 2007 budget and a NYS Comptroller's Audit, before closing the books on the 2006 budget, properly accounted for the WestHELP money received in 2006 by placing it in the General (A) Fund.  At issue now is the unspent $1,448,349.11 WestHELP money for the years 2005 and earlier, since the books have been closed for those years for some time.

The Supervisor, the town's Chief Financial Officer, did not tell the Town Council how much unspent WestHELP money was in the bank account for those prior years.  We recently found out the magnitude of the amount on our own.  The magnitude of the amount has shocked even the most avid community budget watchers.  The purpose of my prior email statement was to publicly disclose the unspent amount of WestHELP money in the bank account so it can finally be properly accounted for in a budget and placed in the General (A) Fund balance.  After a series of confusing "directives" by the Supervisor during the week regarding the money, most labeled "clarification," I could wait no longer for full disclosure and wanted to bring closure to this matter.

The Town Council continues to remain committed to full disclosure of all income and expenses.  The Town Council never voted to allow this unusual off-budget method of holding unspent WestHELP money in a bank account for ease of spending later, a practice that pre-dates our Town Comptroller being hired.

Finally, the Supervisor should not expect me to withhold from the public such information about $1,448,349.11 of the taxpayers’ money simply because, as he mentions in his reply, he is running for re-election. At the very least, I would hope any further reply by the Supervisor would be truthful and consistent with what actually happened at last Tuesday's work session, as documented on the audiotape.

Francis Sheehan, Councilman

   Town of Greenburgh

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