Running to the state comptroller whenever they disagree with some budgeting items is probably not something local government boards want to get in the habit of doing.
But in the case of the town of Rotterdam, where two members of the Town Council have challenged the legality of recent budgetary practices that they say involved the improper allocation of taxpayer funds, the citizens have to come first.
Better to clear up the issues now — at the beginning of the year with a new town supervisor and two new council members — than continue whatever questionable practices were taking place in the past.
If the disagreements over the legality of the practices continue, it will only encourage further distrust and disagreement among board members. And given the inability of the previous town board to conduct business, this board just can't allow that to fester any longer.
Only once these questions are cleared up can the town move forward with the people's business.
And the only way to do that is to take the matter completely out of the hands of anyone associated with the town who could give the perception of favoring one side over the other.
The state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, is a Democrat. But he’s proven over time that he’s not going to make a decision about the legality of town budgetary practices based on politics. His office is going to make its findings based on the law. And that’s what’s needed here.
Whatever the comptroller’s office comes up with, the entire town board must agree to accept and adopt the recommendations.
That goes double for the council members who brought the action, Joe Villano and Rick Larmour. Their concerns may end up being validated. Or the comptroller might determine that whatever the town did under the previous administration was allowable. That’s the chance they took in bringing this matter to the state, and they must accept the outcome.
In the meantime, while they await the comptroller’s findings, town officials should take no action to accept the independent town audit, which would only exacerbate the division on the board.
The ultimate goal of all these machinations should be to ensure that the town is operating in the best interests of the citizens of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam residents have had enough of stagnant government. They deserve better.
Taking this matter out of the town council's hands, under these circumstances, was the appropriate course of action.