To the Editor,

The Board of Trustees for the Village of Bath would like to take this time to respond to the public's concerns regarding the recent audit as issued by the New York State Comptroller's Office for the period of June 1, 2007 through February 11, 2010.

To the Editor,
The Board of Trustees for the Village of Bath would like to take this time to respond to the public's concerns regarding the recent audit as issued by the New York State Comptroller's Office for the period of June 1, 2007 through February 11, 2010.
Auditors for the State Comptroller's Office created two charts. The first chart appears on page 14 and details what the auditors have identified as “improper payments” to employees. We will be providing detailed information to the public on that specific chart at a later time after the Board has had an opportunity to discuss the matter with legal counsel.
We would like to take this time to specifically address the second chart, listed on page 18 of the report that indicates employee titles that received unauthorized salary increases and benefits during the audited period of June 1, 2007 through February 11, 2011. This specific chart lists 12 employees, by position, who received a total of $118,945 in salary and benefits. On page 10 of the report, the Auditors indicated “The Board failed to execute employment contracts or establish personnel policies for all 12 of the Village's non-union employees, or to formally document authorized salaries or employee benefits for these employees, by resolution or any other method. These individuals received $118,945 in salary and benefits that had not been officially authorized or documented. ”
There is no question past Village Boards have failed to execute employment contracts or establish personnel policies for the Village's non-union employees, many of which are department heads, and to formally document salary increases and benefits by Board resolution. This is absolutely no fault of the employees listed in the chart on page 18. Previous Boards had established salary and benefits for department heads based upon the collective bargaining agreements their subordinates receive. Salaries and benefits for these individuals were approved by all previous Boards with the passing of annual village budgets. This is not the first audit the State Comptroller's Office has conducted at the Village of Bath; however, this is the first time this particular issue has been identified as being problematic and the current Bath Village Board of Trustees have taken measures to properly establish salary increases and benefits for non-union employees through contracts and employee policies.
At our January 18 meeting of the Board of Trustees, during the public comments portion of the meeting, a former Bath Village Trustee identified two department heads – Streets Supervisor Jeff Muller and Police Chief David Rouse as having received salary increases and benefits without the Board's knowledge. This is absolutely not true. When this former trustee was on the Village Board, the same custom and practice of giving department heads salary increases and benefits based upon their subordinates' collective bargaining agreements was done with the passing of the annual budget. Accordingly, the Boards she served on also failed to execute employment contracts or establish personnel policies for the Village's non-union employees and also failed to formally document salary increases and benefits by Board resolution. At no time did either of these gentlemen receive salary increases or benefits without the knowledge of the Village Board.
Lastly, Jeff Muller has been employed by the Village as Streets Supervisor for more than 30 years. David Rouse has been employed by the Village for more than 22 years, with the last 15 years as Chief of Police. Both are dedicated salaried department heads who work long hours without the compensation of overtime. Because of the state of affairs that existed in the Village Clerk's Office at the time of the audit, both of these men spent many hours assisting the auditors by providing them with a multitude of records necessary to conduct the audit. Due to the many issues and poor record keeping that had existed in the Village Clerk's Office at the time, Jeff Muller and Chief Rouse provided invaluable assistance to the Board in creating the current budget by which we are operating. Without their assistance, and with incorrect information supplied to the Board by an interim Village Clerk, the tax hike would have been double digits. The criminal investigation that ensued over the unlawful activities in the Village Clerk's Office involved our very own police department, which resulted in the arrest, plea and court-ordered restitution of monies stolen by the former Village Clerk. Additionally, the Village was at risk of losing a records management and archiving grant because of the inactions of the former Village Clerk. This grant was to reimburse the Village for several thousands of dollars worth of shelving units that had been purchased and received. Chief Rouse successfully assisted the  Board in obtaining those funds to pay for the shelving units, after the Village had received notification that they would not be paid for with grand funds.

Donna Simonson
Mayor

Jeanne Glass
Deputy Mayor

Tom Sears
Trustee

John Stranges
Trustee

Bill Austin
Trustee