To the editor,
Despite Mayor Robert Chatfield trying to push through yet another non-election year budget increase of about $336,000, or 3.7%, at least some members of the Town Council thankfully said enough is enough, and reduced the request by about $330,000.
Included in these “cuts” were some low hanging fruit like the new financial position that the mayor recommended, even though he previously claimed it was not even needed in Prospect. What changed his mind? Maybe it was the story about up to $250,000 of taxpayer money going missing, and which the public only found out about after last November’s election?
Why wasn’t someone in the mayor’s administration responsible for balancing the monthly bank statements? Had anyone done that, it wouldn’t have taken a year to figure out that taxpayer money was being stolen and another year to figure out where it went.
Four years ago a bipartisan group of nine concerned citizens recommended that the Town Charter be changed to involve a qualified professional, instead of just elected officials, accurately recording where taxpayer dollars were really ending up. The mayor and his inner-circle of elected and appointed officials put up signs around town urging residents to vote against it, claiming this was not necessary in Prospect.
I was hoping that this year the Town Council could have allocated whatever money was required to conduct an independent forensic review of how the town has long conducted its financial operations. While that would provide some needed transparency, it clearly was not a good time to add to expenses. Ironically, if someone hadn’t lost track of the town’s money, there would have been enough of it to fix the problem, thus eliminating the possibility that officials could lose track of the town’s money yet again.
The first step for fixing any problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. The second is figuring out its root cause. Only then can it be resolved. Bottom line, it doesn’t look like Prospect’s accounting problems will even be discussed as long as the current administration remains so comfortably entrenched in office.
Thomas J. Galvin
The writer is a former chairman of the Prospect Town Council and a former member and chairman of the Prospect Republican Town Committee.