NYS Comptroller’s Office
Binghamton Regional Office
44 Hawley St. – Room 1702
Binghamton, NY 13901
Dear NYS Comptroller:
The Town of Sidney has recently suffered a great amount of negative national media
attention resulting from Town Supervisor Robert McCarthy’s attempts, now abandoned,
to force a Muslim community to disinter bodies buried in a cemetery on private property.
150 people attended the last Town meeting (see enclosed article from the Oneonta Daily
Star) and 241 people have recently signed onto a petition calling for his resignation
(enclosed). Many residents have been roused to greater involvement in local politics.
What we have found is that Mr. McCarthy has handled all Town business and finances
with the same lack of competence, transparency and respect for the law that he displayed
with the cemetery issue.
Many of our group observed the annual Town budget workshop. At one point, Mr.
McCarthy complained about all the checking account fees the Town was being charged,
when it was pointed out by another Board member and the bookkeeper that the accounts
were actually free and all the fees were from bounced checks.
It was revealed that several hundred thousand dollars are missing from accounts and the
separate accounts have gotten so mixed up that, as explained by Meg Hungerford, the
municipal finance expert brought into the meeting by the rest of the Board to figure out
the budget, “It’s a mystery where this money is but there’s no reason it should be a
mystery.” She suggested that the town would have to reconstruct the books from the
beginning of McCarthy’s term. A quote for $15,000 was obtained for an outside
accounting agency to do so.
I have submitted the enclosed Freedom Of Information Law requests, as well as a letter
from the Town Clerk stating that certain documents required by law (cited in FOIL
request) have not been filed by the Supervisor. It is common knowledge in our town
government that Supervisor McCarthy refuses to even speak to Town Clerk Lisa French
and apparently he’s never filed any documents with her office. The monthly financial
statement required of the Supervisor by NYS Town Law 125 has never been filed. The
Quarterly Reports required by the NYS Comptroller’s Office have never been filed. No
Code of Ethics, required of the Supervisor by General Municipal Law Article 18, 806,
exists in the Clerk’s Office.
Recently, the Town awarded a contract to repair the Hospital roof for $34,000. Even
though the issue first arose in the minutes of April 2010, the contract was awarded in
October with no competitive bidding in violation of General Municipal Law 103. The
town does not even have a Procurement Policy for any Town contracts as required by
General Municipal Law 104-b. We are told that Mr. McCarthy is negotiating the sale or
lease of the town-owned hospital building alone with his step-son and Board member
Eric Wilson and has refused the participation of other Board members.
Mr. McCarthy’s recent statements and actions have resulted in a very low level of trust
among residents and we are afraid that all of the above is only the tip of the iceberg. We
are asking the Comptroller’s Office to immediately commence a full audit before any
more damage is done to our town.
On Behalf of Concerned Citizens for Responsible Sidney Government