Parish waiting for comptroller opinion on voucher issue

Debra J. Groom/Oswego County NewsA file photo of the Parish Town Board. Town Clerk Kelly Reader is at left in the rear with the green shirt while Supervisor Mary Ann Phillips is in the rear on the right in the blue shirt. The men at the table are, from left, board member G. Richard Horning, John Horning, deputy supervisor Bernie Horning (not a voting member of the board) and board member John Dunham.

PARISH - The Parish town board still has not resolved the matter of who is supposed to put together vouchers for the board to vote on each month.

In August, the town board voted to have town Supervisor Mary Ann Phillips put together the claim forms and abstract of bills to be presented to the board each month. Right now, that work is done by Town Clerk Kelly Reader.

Phillips and town board members G. Richard Horning and John Horning voted to move the duties to the supervisor. Voting against were town board members John Dunham and Douglas Jordan.

Reader said after that Aug. 15 vote that she would continue putting the abstract of bills together. She says Town Law states the job is supposed to be hers and that she has been doing it for years and years without any difficulties.

Phillips said as the chief financial officer of the town, she should be gathering the vouchers and drawing up the abstract of bills for the town board to vote on each month.

“I am not going to go against the law,” Reader said at the Aug. 15 meeting.

Phillips said Reader has to follow what the town board says to do, but Reader countered that she doesn’t have to do what the town board says — she is not going to break the law.

At the Nov. 21 town board meeting, the issue was on the town board agenda, but it was tabled for discussion until the Dec. 19 meeting.

Phillips said a definitive opinion on who is supposed to put together the bill abstract each month is needed. She said she has received three differing opinions and now is waiting on information from the legal department of the state Comptroller’s office.

Phillips said previously that the job of putting together the bill abstract was given to Reader years ago by a former supervisor, but the state Comptroller has said “the process we’re following is wrong” and the supervisor can take that duty back.

Reader said the way the duty is set up now provides the town with checks and balances. She said she is a neutral entity in the town, having no business one way or the other on which bills are paid and which ones aren’t. So she simply puts the bills together on the abstract and presents them to the town board.

A survey of many of the town clerks in Oswego County found a majority of them follow Town Law Section 119, which states “In a town in which there is no town comptroller, the town clerk shall cause each claim presented to the town board for audit.”

Clerks in Sandy Creek, Constantia, Richland, Mexico, Volney and Scriba all said they do the abstracts in their towns. In Williamstown, the town clerk and her deputy do the abstract. In Granby, the bookkeeper puts together the abstract but the town clerk reviews it.

The Schroeppel clerk does not do the abstract because Schroeppel has its own town comptroller. In Hastings, the bookkeeper does the abstract.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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