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Board rebuffs call for new Freeport audit

Mayor of Freeport Andrew Hardwick in Freeport.

Mayor of Freeport Andrew Hardwick in Freeport. Credit: Chris Ware

Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick's calls for an audit of the village's finances were again rebuffed by the board of trustees.

Hardwick has asked the board five times to approve a forensic audit of the city's finances under previous administrations. Each time -- including Monday night at a village meeting -- the four trustees have declined to move the audit forward.

The probe would piggyback on an audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Hardwick has said. That audit found Freeport racked up debt by including in the budget nearly $5 million of nonexistent funds between 2006 and 2010.

Hardwick said his audit would be done by a private firm and would seek to find out if any laws were broken during the mishandling of village funds.

"We can have an idea from a professional, licensed firm, so we can have an idea of the scope," Hardwick said, adding that the audit would find "any malfeasance, any mishandling of any kind."

Trustee William White said after the meeting that Hardwick's audit was "not necessary" because DiNapoli spent a year reviewing village finances and would have reported any criminality he found.

"Quite frankly I think the mayor is putting this on for political purposes," White said. "He knows the board is not interested in putting this forward."

Trustee Carmen Pineyro said the village would be better served to focus on a set of 88 recommendations in DiNapoli's audit. The mayor's audit proposal also lacks focus, she said.

"If we don't have something targeted to tell these individuals to look for, it could be another year," Pineyro said.

Hardwick has defended the audit, saying that the village cannot learn from earlier financial mistakes if it doesn't have a deeper understanding of how the money problems arose.

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