Johnstown Town Supervisor Nancy MacVean sure knows how to liven up an audit. But she obviously doesn't know how to handle a problem with one.
The supervisor wasn't outwardly upset, per se, about the content of a recent audit of the town by the state Comptroller's Office.
Rather, she was mad about the way the state's auditors allegedly mishandled town records, haphazardly tossing files into boxes and not returning them to the offices where they got them. In a bizarre sidelight, she also accused the Comptroller's Office of starting a “war” between the Town Board and the Highway Department, which she said has led to mistrust between the two and prompted highway crews to start a union.
"It's been a real joy having you guys here," the town supervisor wrote sarcastically in Johnstown's response to the audit. "Thanks so much for coming. I really look forward to your next visit."
We understand how the supervisor could have gotten upset over the auditors' allegedly sloppy handling of town records — a charge the Comptroller's Office strongly denied in a followup letter. It's difficult enough for small towns with small staffs to maintain adequate records without an outside agency coming in and messing things up.
But the supervisor’s sarcastic, unprofessional response didn't do any favors to her, the town, or any other local government body that might have experienced similar problems.
If missing records were a problem, the supervisor should have documented them and provided a list. She should have included citations from the clerks who dealt with the auditors and who were forced to reorganize the records after they left town. Photos of the mess would have buttressed her case. All this should have been included in a separate, formal complaint to the Comptroller's Office signed not just by MacVean, but by the entire Town Board. As for disrupting the town's relationship with highway workers, that's the town's problem, not the comptroller's.
The supervisor's snarky response was guaranteed only to prompt the abrupt denial that it got in return.
In the age of e-mail, we've all been told to think before hitting the "send" button.
Supervisor MacVean should have taken that advice before hitting the send button on her response to this audit.