Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 20, 2013

Wheatfield officials call state audit of town finances 'routine'

WHEATFIELD —

Town of Wheatfield officials confirmed the presence of state auditors investigating the town's finances Monday.

Supervisor Robert Cliffe said one auditor from the state's Comptroller's Office has been at town hall for about three weeks.

Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said the audit is routine.

"It's a routine audit," O'Toole said. "It's not unannounced, it's not a forensic audit."

"The town was the subject of a pretty bad audit in 2009, so it's our turn again," Cliffe added. "Maybe they're here a little earlier than normal. But the auditor is here and she's been given everything she's asked for."

Recent Internet chatter has pointed out the presence of the auditors, confirmed in an email by Comptroller's Office Spokesman Brian Butry. But the Internet reports, posted on a blog, claimed the audit went unannounced by the comptroller and was investigating reports of healthy financial standing in the town's budget.

Cliffe said the blog drastically misrepresented the town's finances, especially concerning a report of townwide spending increasing a whopping 30 percent.

The figure is actually much smaller, Cliffe said.

"If you look at the facts, it's probably closer to one-third of 1 percent," he said.

In addition to the audit, the town is bracing for the loss of one of its department heads. O'Toole confirmed Building Inspector Joe Caturia is looking to step down from his position, though he has offered to remain part time until a new, full-time replacement can be found.

Cliffe said Caturia expressed interest about six weeks ago in starting his own business as a carpenter.

"He's young, he's getting married and he wanted to take the opportunity to start his own business," Cliffe said. "When you get older and you have a family, those opportunities aren't as safe of a bet as they are when you're younger, so we wish him well in his new venture."

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