Town's System Was Able To Produce Financial Information



This letter is referencing the May 30, editorial "Our View." I strongly agree with your assessment of the circumstances leading up the town's financial crisis. The town council did create the circumstances that led up to the lack of pertinent financial information during the past 12 months. To quote you: "Payson didn't create the problem that is confronts now -- but self-delusion, poor management and political considerations made it much worse than it had to be." Debra Galbraith was given the task of handling two additional full time positions while interim town manager. This was the first mistake that the council made despite concerns expressed by the citizens during the related council meeting. That mistake began to manifest itself almost immediately and in the months to come.

Your article indicated that "Reportedly, she inherited an accounting system that made it hard to figure out exactly where the town stood on a month to month basis." This is not correct!

The system in existence at that time was fully capable of producing financial data monthly as required. The data was there, you just had to know how to use it. The town installed that system about six years ago and my staff and I were able to monitor both incoming revenues and expenditures against budgets on a monthly and year-to-date basis. In addition I developed a 10-year data base for all major revenues which allowed me to monitor these critical revenue sources for any change in projected monthly receipts. This was major part of my job as chief fiscal officer. She was given access to this data before I left. I retired on June 1, 2007; Debra became chief fiscal officer on June 2, 2007 and assumed the responsibility of reviewing and reporting on the town's fiscal health to council.

The town manager and chief fiscal officer (CFO) of any town or city is totally responsible for the monitoring and reporting on the financial condition of their municipality.

Failure to do so is a dereliction of duty and responsibility. The fact that the council gave both jobs to one person is not an excuse as they said she could handle both. She had very capable staff in her deputy CFO who knew how to extract the information needed in a timely manner and produce monthly reports.

Debra, as town manager and CFO, failed and/or refused to use all of the resources available to her. The information was available in that accounting system all the time.

She should have known in January 2008 or even earlier, that our sales tax collection was behind and that the state shared revenues were also lagging behind historical trends.

My record as the town's former CFO for 11 years confirms that the prior system was quite capable of producing timely information required by any council to help them make critical policy decisions in a time of fiscal crisis.

Glenn W. Smith

Retired Chief-Fiscal-Officer

Town of Payson

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