2 Huntington Town Board members form fiscal panel
Two Huntington Town Board members dissatisfied with the town budget process and concerned about future bond ratings have created a Bonding Review Committee.
Mark Mayoka and Gene Cook say their committee will review accounting policies and procedures and recommend ways to further improve the budget process, such as getting audited financial statements done in a more timely fashion.
"If a ratings agency relies on an unaudited report and it differs from the actual audited report which comes out later, that could negatively impact the bond rating," Mayoka, a Republican running for re-election, said.
He and Cook, an Independence Party member who is running for town supervisor, announced they had formed the committee last week, after recent reports on the town's fiscal health from ratings agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's.
The town received "AAA" ratings, the highest. But the two board members said negative comments within the ratings report, about using an unaudited report to establish ratings and Moody's projection giving the town a negative outlook, call for changes.
In a statement, Town Supervisor and chief fiscal officer Frank Petrone, a Democrat, who is also running for re-election, said the formation of the committee was a "political ploy and the height of sour grapes" by his board colleagues.
"I find it very strange that they don't want to take credit for something that happened while they were part of town government -- unless they are admitting that they had no role, including casting a supporting vote, in the constructive actions that cut spending, reduced debt and held the line on taxes in the past three budgets," Petrone said.
Cook did not comment.
Mayoka said besides him and Cook the committee will include five or six people with government and/or business experience. He said he also hopes Petrone and town board colleagues Mark Cuthbertson and Susan Berland, both Democrats, will designate representatives.
"If he wants to form a committee he should file a resolution with the town board and the town board can consider that," Cuthbertson, who is running for re-election, said.
Berland said she would not be supporting such a committee or appointing a representative.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said that, according to the town attorney's office, a town board resolution is required for a committee to have official standing.