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Carroll Officials Putting In The Work To Prevent Future Financial Messes

The news that more than $21,000 in Carroll swim program fees going back roughly 10 years into the past can’t be confirmed as ever actually deposited into town bank accounts is a shocking failure of the trust town residents placed in the people they elected to show basic financial common sense.

So while last week’s audit is disappointing, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Past reporting had shown that money was unaccounted for, and past audits of the town had shown financial controls were exceedingly lax. The amount was surprising. The fact it was unaccounted for was not.

So we don’t envy the task that faced Russell Payne, current town supervisor, and Susan Rowley, current town clerk. There was a lot of work to be done by both officials to ensure the slipshod financial management practices of the past didn’t repeat themselves in the future. Both Payne and Rowley accepted the state Comptroller’s Office audit without passing blame or trying to justify the issues they had faced. Steps are being taken to ensure that money is handled correctly and that town officials are trained in financial bookkeeping and basic auditing of the town’s books to keep money from coming up missing in the future.

It was particularly telling that Rowley, in particular, was honest with state officials when she told them certain reports or bookkeeping duties hadn’t been done for some time and that she needed help. Rowley put in the work that past clerks did not — and town residents’ money is safer because of it.

These types of audits are not easy, nor is it easy to deal with the aftermath of an audit that shows a lack of basic recordkeeping over the period of years by two different sets of town clerks, supervisors and board members. Not only did Rowley and Payne not make the mess, they willingly put in the work to keep a similar mess from being made in the future.

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