New council, new debate, new auditor

| 61 Comments
At last night's Borough Council meeting there was an extensive and sometimes spirited debate on Resolution 2009-32, a resolution to contract a new auditor, Suplee Clooney & Company.  The resolution passed 5-1, with Councilman Manley the only dissenting vote.  The move to Suplee Clooney & Company is set to save Metuchen over $5,000 over the prior auditor, Ernst & Young.  In addition Councilman Cammarano made the point that after using the same auditor for the last fifteen years, the fresh perspective provided by a new auditor is a benefit.  Councilman Manley sent the following message to Metuchen Matters to sum up his objections:

It is clear to me that the town has a financial problem.  That is all I know for certain.  I want to get to the bottom of it and think that firing the auditor was the wrong move.  It may eventually be the right course after some research but we just got the 2007 audit now and it has some real problems identified.  I think it is our responsibility to the taxpayers to find out why they occurred.  How can we do that in a just manner when we have fired the auditor and hired a firm that has a previous relationship with our CFO.  I recognize the cost savings of $5,000 and do not for a second minimize that fact.  However when I am staring down an audit that says I have had a $624K mistake and a $30K operating deficit, I think it best to go after that money.  I am also quite confident in these hardening times that if we tried to negotiate with our previous auditor, we could have closed the gap.

61 Comments

if that is true,then it should have been spent in 2009. I think whatever is left over from one year can't be spent until the year after next. I stll can't figure out how they spent money they really didn't have. 624K is quite a bit of money. Did they think they hit the lottery. Someone should have noticed an amount like this. Its not like thye sold some surplus property or something.

Here's something that doesn't make sense - how come we had $624,000 in cash at the end of 2007 that wasn't spent?

Wow they didn't used to post the agendas. I wonder if they will ever post the minutes. Thanks for the info.

Its on the school website on the annul agenda when she was appointed. It was also listed on Hoover's. You will also see she gets about $4,000 for the position when you look up borough salaries.

I wonder why that is not listed on the school website.

The Metuchen Boad of Ed does have a Treasurer of School Moneys, and it is the same person as the CFO. What her duties are as Treasurer of School Moneys, I am not sure.

The salary of every state and municipal employee is public record.

The Board of Ed has a business administrator who is the one who answers money-related questions at the meetings. When you ask him what is in a budget line item, he can actually tell you. They don't have anyone with the title CFO.

http://www.metuchenschools.org/metuchen/Administration/

First of all,that was Justin's second meeting and the first one was the reorganization meeting. Lets be fair. He is raising questions that came up during the election season. He was elected. He is charged by his oath of office to look out for the best interests of Metuchen. Are his questions causing some people concern. Is that why they want him to shut up. Sit there say nothing, and be like the rest of the bunch that we have had for 14 years.

The new Mayor is totally lost in space. He has been on the council for over 14 years,yet he seems like a new guy. That is because he never spoke up,never dared to question the agenda,policy or the old Mayor. He was not allowed.

Now he is the Mayor and acts like a beginner. Why is it that if someone agrees with Manley he is his follower. We all do have minds of our own.

I don't even know what Justin said at the meeting, don't really care, but I do know one thing.

According to an early post, someone said the our CFO is also the board of Ed. treasurer. Does the board of Ed have a CFO or is it just her?

The town and the schools shuffle money back and forth, and the one controlling those shifts should not be the same person. That is a clear conflict of interest, it is also a control issue.

The person who controls the money shouldn't be the same person who makes the deposits, anyone in business knows that.

Maybe that isn't actually the case, but from an early post, if it is true, there is a case of conflict of interest.

Was everything on the up and up? Was there fraud? That has nothing to do with a conflict of interest. Doesn't matter about intentions, doesn't matter if everything is done by the book. A conflict of interest shouldn't be allowed.

Why do you think there are pay to play rules (or should be?) Is everyone who donates crooked? Is every politician that accepts money from donors crooks? Obviously not, but pay to play rules eliminates the possibility. Not allowing conflicts of interest does the same.

No. you implied it and all of the folks on here who support your position came out and said it.
I saw her salary posted and all the nasty comments about here mistake. These are your supporters and they are following your lead. Councilman Morrisson has been fair and made the correct vote. You seem to be trying to pick a fight at every council meeting and trying to play the blame game non-stop.

I can imagine how horrible that poor woman who made the mistake feels.


I said twice at the Council meeting and will say again here, I do not think ANYTHING illegal or unethical has occurred. I think the audit speaks for itself and would have preferred to work with that auditor to better understand their findings and recommendations for improvements. I thought it a more prudent course to negotiate with the existing auditor for a better price and work with the auditor, the CFO and the administrator to get to the bottom of our challenges. It seems from my reading of the audit that they extend beyond the $624K mistake.

You may have missed it in my previous post - it was rather long - but I said:
"This was not just one person's mistake. Several people made mistakes along the way, including me. I should have asked more questions. I accept my share of the blame. I am not prepared to say anyone should lose their job over the mistakes that were made."

Again, Councilman. Should the CFO be fired like so many posters want?

It seems the majority of folks who support Mr. Manleys postion seem to feel that way and many implied that she has conflicts of interest and should be canned. Mr. Manley seemed to imply there there was some type of coverup and possible illegal/unethical activities. Most of his supporters have run with that and have been ripping the CFO right and left.

What say you?

Was the $624K part of a larger payment? I asked this question at the time, and my recollection is that it was part of a larger payment. I am not completely sure anymore, though.

As I said in September when the issue first arose, people make mistakes. This was not just one person's mistake. Several people made mistakes along the way, including me. I should have asked more questions. I accept my share of the blame. I am not prepared to say anyone should lose their job over the mistakes that were made.

I did not vote to approve the hiring of a new auditor as retribution for the mistakes surrounding the $624K. As previously stated, I did not believe that the auditor was at fault. I voted to approve the resolution regarding the hiring of the new auditor because the new firm is qualified, has no actual conflict that I see, and is $5000 less than the old firm.

I acknowledged that Mr. Manley was correct to highlight that the facts suggest the possibility that something else may be motivating the change. My sense was that others had bristled at Mr. Manley's suggestion, and at his desire to explore the reasons behind the change.

To be fair to all, I noted that a neutral viewer might reasonably view the facts skeptically - the previous auditor was critical of the town and we then changed auditors. I supported Mr. Manley's right to explore whether there were underlying reasons for the change. I am sure there are numerous people in town who had the same questions Mr. Manley voiced and I was glad to hear the issue raised.

I tried to explain that I had and have no knowledge of any improper or ulterior motive on anyone's part, but that the questions Mr. Manley was asking should be posed and explored to clear the air.

Maybe I was not clear - maybe it is still not clear. My intent, though, was to support the idea that Mr. Manley should be free to explore the issue if he felt it important and wanted answers. Councilmembers should not be offended by having their decisions scrutinized, particularly where the facts suggest doing so is a reasonable inquiry. Did it come across clearly? No. Sometimes, words we choose fail us.

I'm still unsure of one thing. Was the $624,000 part of a larger payment to the BOE and thus the amount of the payment was miscalculated OR was the $624,000 destined for somewhere else and put into the BOE account by mistake?

Very well explained by Councilman Morrison. The best and by far the simplest explanation thus far. It clears up many questions. The error though has caused the Borough some problems. The state must think we have no idea what we are doing, there could be consequences for this years budget. We obtained gracious help from Trenton, thanks to Sen. Buono and Councilman Cammarano. We also dipped into surplus, which will have an effect on this years budget and probably services. The town will have to make up the difference, and that can only happen by reducing services,such as personnel. God knows where they will cut.

Thanks Councilman, so do you think the CFO should be fired also? I know you voted to get rid of the Auditor. Many of the folks posting here and Councilman Manley belive we should keep the Auditor, or else it is something "fishy" going on.

I appreciate your explanation but am confused by your stance. You seemed to strongly support Mr. Manley's position at the meeting, then voted against it. No insult intended, but I had a strong John Kerryesqe flash when you did that, you know "I was for it before i was against it".

Not really sure where you stand. Can you clear that up for us. Should the CFO be polishing up her resume due to the bad journal entry,

Just to clarify what happened with the $624K - that amount was paid out of municipal coffers to the Bd of Ed at the end of 2007. In Feb or March of 2008, the error was recognized. The Bd. of Ed. returned the money. When the money was returned, that exchange was treated as revenue on our budget. By treating it as revenue, we had an artificially high revenue figure. We submitted the budget to the State with that revenue figure. Our State Aid and Extraordinary Aid figures were calculated by the State using that artificially high revenue figure. We have no idea how our State Aid and Extraordinary Aid figures would have been different (if at all) if our revenue figure was accurate.
The error in our budget was later recognized by the State who informed us that we could not treat that repayment from the Bd. of Ed. as revenue.
With the help of Senator Buono, Councilman Cammarano, and the Mayor, we were able to secure an additional last minute $300K in Extraordinary Aid to bridge the $624K revenue gap we had created. The remaining gap of $324K was closed by using money we obtained from the sale of a sliver of municipal land to the Renaissance developer (75K) and the rest came out of Metuchen's surplus (essentially our town's savings account).
The $624K was not stolen and did not disappear. The interest it earned while in the Bd. of Ed.'s hands stayed with the Bd. of Ed. It was explained that no interest is charged in the transactions between the Borough and the Bd. of Ed. for ease of recordkeeping.
Thus, the manner in which we treated the transaction with the Bd. of Ed. may have had an effect on our initial State Aid and Extraordinary Aid figures since we were worse off than we reported. The State used our artificially high revenue figures in their analysis. Perhaps the aid figures the State calculated would have been higher if our revenue was lower. Perhaps not. We simply do not know. We did subsequently receive an additional $300K in Extraordinary Aid. Whether that additional amount combined with the initial State Aid and Extraordinary Aid figures netted a higher amount of total aid, we simply do not know. So to suggest that we ended up with some sort of windfall is misleading. We will never know whether we ended up better or worse off. What we do know is that we phoned in some favors, and luckily someone answered the phone.
Going forward, though, it means we dodged a bit of a bullet last year and we will not have the $624K to spend this year that we were able to cobble together last year.
I hope that explanation helps.
This issue came to a head in September of last year. The auditor appeared at a Borough Council meeting. He explained that he had not yet completed the audit, thus he had not reviewed the transaction as part of his audit. He also claimed that no one from the Borough had contacted him to discuss how to properly treat the repayment by the Bd. of Ed.

They said the previous auditor's bid was higher than the new one by $5000. So yes they did submit a bid.

Thats true, but what about this year,did the old auditor even submit,or was he just let go.

The new auditor would have known what the old auditor bid last year because it is public record.

Any money that comes from Trenton is taxpayer money. Nothing is free. If we have to make up the gap again this year,the taxpayers are on the hook. Everyone is well aware that people make mistakes ,we are all human. The problem with this is the manner in which it is being handled. If it is no big deal then why a new auditor. Why wasn't the old auditor at least afforded the ability to resubmit his bid. Maybe it was time for a change, the timing is bad. Did the new auditor know what the old auditor bid. If so then it was not done fairly.

Does the State now mint money? Because last time I checked the $300K was indeed TAXPAYER money. Our use of it for plugging a budget hole created by a simple accounting error makes the likelihood that we will get funds for real work in Metuchen go DOWN which in turn will cost MORE local taxpayer money. It's not that hard to connect the dots so stop the spin.

Does the State now mint money? Because last time I checked the $300K was indeed TAXPAYER money. Our use of it for plugging a budget hole created by a simple accounting error makes the likelihood that we will get funds for real work in Metuchen go DOWN which in turn will cost MORE local taxpayer money. It's not that hard to connect the dots so stop the spin.

So are you saying that if you live in Metuchen and pay state taxes, and the Borough, because of an accounting mistake, over spends by $300,000. The state sends another 300 k to cover the mistake. Where does the state get the money? From me, the tax payer. Be truthful.

Wrong, no money disappered, no money was lost. An accounting error was made, the timing of the correction caused the budget issue which netted us another 300K. Taxpayers aren't paying for anything here. Be truthful.

Hold on a minute, if this was just a mistake that anyone could make then why did the Borough have to ask Trenton for another 300k. This 300k was suposed to alleviate the hole created by the 624k mistake. If this was just an accounting error , where did the money go. I think the town spent the money believing they had it to spend. When the mistake was caught and corrected ,the town was short money. Sorry this was a major blunder, that taxpayers will pay for. For some reason it is being sugarcoated. Where is the accountability? The report also speaks about another 30k problem.

The mess came about because of a mathematical error by the CFO, which was not caught be her supervisor the Borough Administrator. I don't think the buck goes any further than that.

The primary reason given for the selection of the new auditor was that they submitted a lower bid. It sure seems odd to me that the only other firm to submit a bid besides the current auditing firm, which was critical of our CFO and our internal controls, was the auditing firm our CFO previously worked for. Have they ever submitted a bid for our town audit in the past? If not, why did they just happen to submit a bid this year? It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Who made all the bad decisions that got us into the mess? The buck stops at the top.

This is nothing, nothing but politics. Nothing Mr. Manley does with this issue is going to improve one single thing in Metuchen or its operations. Just making political noise. The adjustments and corrections from this are already in place and bing implemented.

Good first step was to can the auditor and establish new procedures. Mr. Morrison and Mr. Waldron both supported the efforts, and abandoned Mr. Manley when it came time to vote.

Jeez, I wonder why?

But according to Mr Manley, its all Ed's, oh scratch that he is gone, its all Tim's, oh wait gone, its all Dyas's fault. He's up for reelection next right?

And according to you its all GWB and republicans fault, right?

Justin you are doing a fine job. That is why you were elected. Someone needs to keep things in check.

lets not forget that 2007 was still under complete Democratic control,from The Mayor on down. They do not care one iota about town workers. They only care about themselves. This problem occurred while they were in control. They have to protect themselves. Pure and Simple. Who is still calling the shots from behind the scenes?

Funny how the only ones making this political are the ones attacking Councilman Manley. It's that same arrogance that helped and O'Brien and Dacey out the door and yes it will do the same to Dyas if he chooses the same path. From the looks of Justin's post he clearly explained where he was coming from and was even critical of his own performance. I think if you look at the audit findings and not all of the noise, any normal person would say "whoa" too. I am at least glad someone is asking the questions.

The economy had nothing to do with Metuchen's $624,000 error.

thats right blame everything on Bush.

Oops - that last sentence should not have not in it. fire me!

Yes, experienced people make mistakes in their jobs, and sometimes they get fired for making them. Instead we have fired the outside auditors who made a negative comment about our internal controls. Apparently there is a deficiency in our internal controls or the mistake would not have been caught and corrected sooner.

So experienced people never make mistakes in their jobs? Are you kidding me?

This is all just politics, a good way to attack the Democrats and stir people up into thinking there is some type of conspiracy and that people are missing 600K. Its awful wierd the way Mr. Manley just constantly attacks, attacks, and attacks, throwing around charges and innuendos that something is fishy. Spending too much time on the Sarah Palin Facebook page with the other wngnuts maybe?

I love how he says that "It is clear to me that the town has a financial problem."

Uhhh, newsflash, every city, town, and state in the country has a financial problem. Ex President Bush (aaah, that felt good) has left us with the worst economy the majority of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Every major Fortune 500 company is laying off people, even Microsoft announced their first ever layoffs just today. The banking system is in tatters and he housing market is in the tank. We are bleeding money in Iraq at the tune of 15 Billion a month. Unemployment is going through the roof.

But according to Mr Manley, its all Ed's, oh scratch that he is gone, its all Tim's, oh wait gone, its all Dyas's fault. He's up for reelection next right?

The treasury secretary nominee made a mistake on his own personal taxes and later paid them. I don't think that is the same as making a mistake in the job you are supposedly experienced in, on an item that is handled repeatedly in that job - the calculation and paying over of moneys to the Board of Ed.

The correction of the mistake would not have to have been made if the original mistake wasn't made. While the correction of the mistake seems to be a complicated issue, the calculation of how much of the Boro tax receipts to pay the Board of Ed is something the CFO has been responsible for doing for years.

if the state had to bailus out to the tune of 300k, that would be this year we will have to make up the 300k. If we receive little or know aid the shortfall could be about 500k. If the mistake did not occur, we would only be short the original 200k ,that we were going to receive last year. When the problem arose we had to ask Trenton for more aid. We then got 300k. That was very generous of the state. Not sure if I got this right, but if the money was not spent,where is it? I don't think people should be fired for honest mistakes, but something is a little fishy here. Look the new Treasurer for the USA forgot to pay his taxes. He will be confirmed. People do make mistakes. This one ,however is costing the taxpayers.

I would like to take a moment to clear some things up. Please understand there are times especially in the debate at the Council meeting and possibly in my responses here that I am being extra cautious because I am still learning what I can and can't say as a public official about issues of performance of staff and appointed professionals. I do not want to expose the Borough to any possible litigation or complaint so please bear with me.

I will try to articulate my position a little better. Ernst & Young is a widget to me. I don't have any reason to defend or especially want to retain them in any way other than the fact that they were the auditor of record not only during the mistake but also for the 2007 audit. Both things trouble me and as I have just arrived to serve in my elected capacity and we the Council just received the 2007 audit. An audit I might add that is 6 months beyond the statutory deadline set down by the State. Both the auditor and the Borough Administrator stated that each did what they were supposed to do and that the delay is a result of the other. I usually use the maxim that when you get two stories the truth is somewhere in the middle. I don't know and don't care frankly. What I do care about is what are we doing about it?

While I defer the legal matters to lawyers which include Councilmen Weber, Morrison and Waldron I will assert myself in areas of strength. My undergraduate degree is in management science and prior to 9/11 I studied for my MBA at NYU. I am no Henry Ford or Peter Drucker but I am comfortable in matters of business including accounting, audits and financial systems. I have held senior level positions with some of the largest financial institutions in the world and have been through internal audits, SEC audits, and Federal Reserve audits. I deal with SOX, financial reporting and accounting on a daily basis.

Given that background what I was trying to call for on Tuesday night was a "freeze". I essentially wanted all parties to remain in their roles and for the Borough to take up the responsibility of determining what the best course and actions were. I do not believe there is enough data available to us to honestly determine where the fault lies but I was and remain willing to try to find out. I was at the September 2nd meeting personally and out of respect to the request of Councilman Weber made at this past meeting I have in fact gone back and watched the entire tape. I do not believe that Mr. Nelson was talking down to anyone. I do believe he used highly technical jargon like most auditors and accountants do but I fully understood what he was saying. As I mentioned, I hear it regularly. Just because someone doesn't speak in terms that all understand doesn't mean they are arrogant or not performing well. It may just mean more questions should be asked.

On that topic I would like to suggest that everyone go watch the tape yourselves. Thanks to the fantastic work of METV, it's available right on our website. When you watch the record, you will see that each Council person has an opportunity to ask their questions and the probe takes some time. It is followed by a rather lengthy and confusing debate on rules of order on amending and tabling resolutions at the end of which the Mayor and the entire Council thank the auditor and CFO for coming and providing thorough details. Mr. Morrison invites them to stay if they want and Mr. Weber cracks a joke that he probably wants to go because he has a headache. If it is true that we were not happy with the answers than why did we let him or the CFO leave the meeting? Why didn't we force him to explain it in more simple terms if it was not understood? The auditor was never given any public indication that I could see that he hadn't met his obligation. What may have transpired privately afterwards, I am not privy too.

So in conclusion, I welcome more feedback from people on this. Both positive and negative. It was evident from the vote that I didn't articulate my position well enough to convince others that we should keep E&Y to get to the bottom of the issue. I tried privately and publicly to state my position that I thought at a minimum we should table appointing the new auditor. I felt the best course was to accept the 2007 audit and take at least two weeks to talk with the previous auditor and the Borough Administration on the findings before making the decision. Unfortunately a letter had been sent to E&Y terminating our relationship with them before Council was even given an opportunity to discuss and either concur or disagree.

Finally on my "brand of politics" comments, I would like it to be known that if you look at the agenda for Tuesday's meeting you will not find any listing for a closed session. Not one of the Republican Council people knew we were going to closed session and were rather surprised by the turn of events. I have no political agenda other than doing what I think is right for Metuchen and speaking up and speaking up loudly when I think there is a problem. I believe that ALL of the Council and the Mayor have the same motive to do what is right for our home town. I stand by my actions and comments on Tuesday, will look for ways to improve on how I state my case, and as always thank you for listening.

Does Mr. Manley think that the Board of Ed still has the money? Why does he write: "I am staring down an audit that says I have had a $624K mistake and a $30K operating deficit, I think it best to go after that money." Doesn't he know that the money was returned? Doesn't he know that the problem resulted because the money was paid to the Board of Ed in 2007, but was not returned to the Borough until 2008 and it was not put on the correct line of the budget? Doesn't he know that as a result of the incorrect line item the borough had a $624k budget shortfall, and that the shortfall was made up by MORE state aid? So where is he "going after the money"?? It seems that he has only been a councilman for three weeks and he has spouted off about things he doesn't know anything about. Mabye he should sit quiet and learn what is going on instead of trying to stir up the pot. Councilmen Morrison and Waldron have done an excellent job of learning the ropes and posing questions when they are unsure, and offering different points of view without being overbearing. Mr. Manley should take it down a notch and stop trying to act as our savior.

So why is Justin trying to stick up for those auditors?

And didn't the town end up getting extra funding from State that we wouldn't have gotten due to the timing of the event?

???

I believe the correct answer was to fire the auditor. Heck yes for all the reasons stated above and more.

Arrogant yes, too long in position yes, Did a poor job--just look at their 2007 findings. Look at their recommendations tell me, where is there one suggestion of the method on how to implement any procedure recommended?

In other words they gave no guidance. Guidance get it. Listen, I didn't know that the tail covering fellow representing the auditors at that BC meeting and doing the explaining on the $600K mistake represented so big an accounting firm. Very sad. Clearly what he/they did in the Boro meeting was to try and throw the CFO under the bus to cover themselves.

Let's be clear, all of that money was still due the school. Be in no doubt. Paid early that's the mistake. So be it. Let's not let it happen again. It is the auditors job to catch that mistake and yes and they did not. Ms. Cuthbert who some attacked above made the mistake, caught it herself and self reported. Listen to that BC meeting. That is courage, honesty and integrity. You want to fire her for that? Find a better reason. Compounding that and sadly, neither our glorious state nor our in-glorious auditor gave her good guidance on how remedy the problem after that. It made things worse budget wise. Disgusting.

You know, we can not do much about the state unless all of us have the moral courage, but we sure can do something about the auditor.

Are we are better off with another qualified auditor. Yes. There is never a need to to throw people under the bus unless there is criminal intent. It is apparent to me from that taped meeting that the auditors knew they blew it in Metuchen and were just protecting the firm from damage to their other multiple municipal accounts. Damage control, that clearly was the end game. Our entire council knew it and they all were angry. I do not blame any of them.

Five of the six councilmen agreed on this vote. They were the ones present at that meeting. To tell you the truth, if an auditor reported in the manner something like that to me in my business, he would have been thankful just to be fired.

To me, it said a lot about the ethics of the old auditor. You know what--they really did not care about Metuchen. They covered tail and ran to protect their other business interests. Does anyone think for one minute the old auditor will protest the awarding of this bid to another qualified competitor? Believe me the old firm wants to bury this. You will never hear from them again.

Never said he was condescending, said he looked frustrated with the Auditor, which he should have been.

But he was doing more than the usual when that Auditor was speaking a few meetings back. He knows it that we shouldnt rehire they guy too, which is why he voted to fire the auditor on Monday night.

But first he had to state how he heartily supported Councilman Manley and keep the politics going. Then when time came to put up or shut up, he shut up leaving Councilman Manley as the sole vote to keep the current Auditor.

I think it's just the way he thinks. Like he's looking up to his brain for answers. If you watch him he does it even when he's talking. I don't think he's being condescending.

So are you saying Councilmember Morrison is fresh?

Councilman Morrison rolls his eyes at everybody

If "everyone is concerned that it doesn't happen again" why isn't "everyone" clamoring for the removal of the CFO and the borough administrator? They are the ones who were responsible for the mistake.

If it is good to have "fresh eyes" and get rid of our outside auditor after 15 years, the same argument could be made for the replacement of our borough administrator, who has been here for 17 years, or the CFO, who has been here 11 years. Perhaps we need "fresh eyes" all around.

Wait a second here. What I have read here is much more important than any political issues.

I hope this isn't true:
"So let me get this straight. Rebecca Cuthbert, who has worked for the Borough for eleven years, is the Borough's Chief Financial Officer and Tax Collector. In addition to that she holds a position with the Metuchen Board of Education as the Treasurer of School Moneys. We are in a budget deficit and can't figure out where the money went. We find a $624,000 error by Ms Cuthbert wherein she overpaid the Board of Education, placed the refund in the wrong account, and used the money as revenue."

I don't know Ms. Cuthbert, have never met her, she is probably a honest beautiful person, but this is what you call a conflict of interest. I hope the above isn't true, if it is, some serious discussion should take place about what actually happened. I am not saying it happened in this case, but when money is shuffled around from account to account, placed in the wrong account, that sends up a flag. A flag that something else may be going on.

Conflicts of interest are never good, because even if everything is perfectly fine, it can erode public confidence.

Our council should investigate this conflict of interest.

You are right a mistake was made. It was addressed. Everybody is concerned that it doesn't happen again. But some folks (the GOP bloggers) seem more concerned wth using it as an attack point for politics rather than addressing the problem.

Why the complaining about "GOP" bloggers? Isn't this a good government issue, not a democrat or republican issue? This is over a half a million dollar mistake. Shouldn't everybody be concerned about it not happening again?

WHAT! The auditor found the errors and recommended changes. He gets replaced. No one is asking that anyone be fired. But who is accountable. So the auditor is fired because he talked down to the council person. Are we little kids. The auditor was probably trying to minimize the issue to protect the CFO. Who knows maybe there have been problems over the years,just never brought out to the public or published in an audit report. Metuchen does have a reputation of having audits modified to their liking.

Well, you didn't get it straight.

We didn't go out and hire an auditor, we have had the same auditor for 15 years.

There was an accounting error, it was addressed. New controls and procedures established.

The auditor was a real jerk at the council meeting just a few months ago. Go watch it for yourself. I remember Councilman Morrison specifically had a real hard time with the guy. Maybe I should go back and grab a couple screen caps of the Councilman rolling his eyes and his look of utter frustration at having to deal with the Auditor. It was very amusing.

Then Councilman Morrison did vote Monday night to can his a**, but not after pontificating about how he agrees with Councilman Manley's point. Funny, I guess his words were just hot air, since when it came time to vote he voted to get rid of current Auditor, as did Will Waldron.

And read Councilman Manley's note, says he thinks it may be right thing to do to get rid of Auditor just not now. Hmm, where have we heard this before from him? Oh, it was wrong to build Rennaisance, now its right. It was right to add headcount to municipal work force in midst of a recession(SRO), but now it is wrong (Fire Chief). As soon as Councilman Manley makes enough political hay out of this one, just watch, he'll be voting to get rid of the auditor.

This is all his brand of politics.

Everyone wanted the auditor's head. Now we need to keep them on for partisan politics. And so the GOP Metuchen bloggers have a new topic to keep them busy.

So let me get this straight. Rebecca Cuthbert, who has worked for the Borough for eleven years, is the Borough's Chief Financial Officer and Tax Collector. In addition to that she holds a position with the Metuchen Board of Education as the Treasurer of School Moneys. We are in a budget deficit and can't figure out where the money went. We find a $624,000 error by Ms Cuthbert wherein she overpaid the Board of Education, placed the refund in the wrong account, and used the money as revenue. When the error is discovered we go running to the state to beg for more money, which we get. We hire an auditor to discover how this happened and to prevent it from happening again. the auditor's report is very critical of Ms. Cuthbert and recommends a number of improvements. Our Mayor and the majority of Borough Council respond not by firing Ms. Cuthbert and continuing the audit, but by firing the auditor and replacing them with an auditor with whom Ms Cuthbert has had a previous relationship. Its rather Nixonian to fire the auditor instead of the incompetant employee isn't it? And then some defenders of the Borough Council in previous posts say "whats the big deal, the money was all spent here and we got extra money from the state!" Don't they realize that is not their money, or even the the state's money, but our money? Why are we tolerating and justifying this incompetance?

oops just saw link

where did you find the auditors comments?

WOW, After reading the comments from the auditors,how can you blame them. These problems should not have occured. Now with a new auditor,who Iam sure wants to get reappointed,there will never be any mistakes,at least not written.

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  • Anonymous: if that is true,then it should have been spent in read more
  • Anonymous: Here's something that doesn't make sense - how come we read more
  • Anonymous: Wow they didn't used to post the agendas. I wonder read more
  • Anonymous: Its on the school website on the annul agenda when read more
  • Anonymous: I wonder why that is not listed on the school read more
  • Anonymous: The Metuchen Boad of Ed does have a Treasurer of read more
  • Anonymous: The salary of every state and municipal employee is public read more
  • Anonymous: The Board of Ed has a business administrator who is read more
  • Anonymous: First of all,that was Justin's second meeting and the first read more
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