Niagara Gazette

March 2, 2014

State comptroller's office back in Lewiston Town Hall

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Auditors from the state comptroller’s office are visiting Lewiston Town Hall this winter as part of its normal fiscal watchdog efforts.

Brian Butry, a spokesman for the office, confirmed the presence of auditors at Lewiston Town Hall earlier this month, a process he said began in mid-December.

The final report would likely be released in mid-summer, he added. Town officials would be afforded the opportunity to respond to the office’s findings.

The last time auditors from the office entered town hall, auditors uncovered misuse of town equipment in a number of drainage projects throughout the town, missing gasoline from highway department stores and some faults with the town’s purchasing policies.

While the town made adjustments to its policies in response, the drainage and gasoline issues led to investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigations visiting town hall in June to question multiple employees of the town, including several elected officials.

This FBI investigation also reportedly led to the town board disciplining two police officers of the town over separate gasoline theft allegations this past fall. One was suspended while another, part-time officer resigned his position after the county District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges according to the Lewiston Town Board.

Supervisor Dennis Brochey, who took office in January, said he believes one of the comptroller’s targets to be the town’s use of Niagara River Greenway funds received through the New York Power Authority re-licensing agreement.

But no matter what results come from the investigation, he said he welcomes the presence of the watchdog entity. He believes in transparency, he said, and fixing anything found to be an error would go a long way to building the public’s trust. 

“I would rather start with a clean slate,” Brochey said. “I welcome them. They can be here as long as they want to be. And if there is a problem in what they find, it will not continue. I’m trying hard to make sure everything is done by the book.”

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.