In responding to the audit, Milford Town Supervisor Chris Harmon, who was elected in November 2011, said he specifically agreed with the finding that the town should avoid using unappropriated fund balances for recurring expenditures.
“The reality is that the town of Milford is clearly not in a good financial position,” Harmon wrote in response.
The town, he added, held the line on tax increases from 1994 to 2012 despite the fact that costs for fuel, fire control, equipment and other areas of spending were rising. Harmon said the system of bookkeeping by the previous supervisor was “not transparent nor helpful in understanding the financial status of the town.”
Harmon also said the tax increase was needed for the 2014 budget because the town was not garnering sufficient revenue and needed to move forward with a revaluation of properties.
The supervisor also took issue with what he called the “piecemeal fashion” of the audit, noting, “We find it somewhat ironic that the Comptroller recommends the town develop and implement a comprehensive financial plan while not having a comprehensive process of its own for reviewing a town’s financial condition.”
Harmon also questioned why the audit made no mention of the town’s need to have a revaluation. “The town of Milford has not conducted a revaluation for 20 years and we are now looking at the prospect of finding the $120,000 required to fund it,” he said in his reply. He further pointed out that the town is in the process of selling a residential property adjacent to town hall in order to come up the funding for the revaluation.
The supervisor also notes that the audit makes no mention that the town has recently reduced the salaries of town board members, including the supervisor, the town justices, the tax collector, the town clerk, the town attorney and the assessor.
Harmon also said the town will this year be addressing the need to come up with a comprehensive, multi-year financial and capital plan.
The full Milton audit and the town supervisor’s response can be viewed on the Internet at: www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2014/milford.pdf