Town of Waukesha – Van Scyoc in the Crosshairs

Among the plethora of news items concerning the Town of Waukesha and Angie Van Scyoc, I had the opportunity to read the March 01, 2013 article by Sara Pryor titled “Town Board seeing red over green – Two supervisors derail budget amendments; board to take them up at next meeting.”
Town of Waukesha - Van Scyoc in the CrosshairsClearly the Town of Waukesha is in the crosshairs – especially seeing that it is election time.

I find a couple of things interesting about this article, as well as other issues I want to expand on.

 

Budget Amendments by Van Scyoc

First.  Since when is the Town of Waukesha doing budget amendments?

Even so, apparently the town thinks they can shift money from one fiscal year to other fiscal years?

Although it appears that Chairman Van Scyoc is paying heed to issues being raised by John Marek, her opponent in the upcoming April 2nd election for town chairman, the actions are very questionable at best.   John Marek raises budget amendment issues at his campaign website and they – among other things – have yet to be credibly refuted by chairman Van Scyoc.

According to the Freeman article two Supervisors from the town board refused to amend a budget for a fiscal year that has ended, and from a business perspective that makes perfect sense to me.

The Freeman article quotes Van Scyoc as stating, “that the town must pay the bill based on the year the expense was incurred, unless the invoice comes in after that year’s books are closed.”

Town Supervisor Brian Fischer is quoted as saying, “Attempting to amend the budget two months after fiscal year ended … is an ill-timed farce,” Fischer said “The budget is a before-the-fact plan, not an after-the-fact gimmick to cover your hindquarters.”

What really confuses me is that it appears the town chairman is trying to make amendments to several past years’ budgets to balance the books.

One would only presume that under a transparent government the best way to see what is being spent by the town is to visit the town of Waukesha website and view archives of the expenditures, right?   Not so.

 

Town of Waukesha Web Archives

Going a couple of years back in the town of Waukesha website archives I was able to find various accounts of expenditures, but they were erratic at best.  Doesn’t the town pay bills on a monthly basis?  If so, why are those expenditures NOT published where citizens and residents of the town can view and monitor where their tax dollars are going?

Simply not publishing expenditures on the town website does not mean that money is not being spent.  At best the act of not displaying monthly expenditures has a connotation that someone is trying to hide something.   I leave that interpretation to people as individuals with their own discernment. Nevertheless, withholding financial information about the township is probably not a good thing to be doing during an election – especially an election where your opponent is alleging an abuse of spending for legal fees and settlements.  That’s just my opinion…

 

Transparency of Town Expenditures & Legal Fees

Accurately tracking expenditures for the town of Waukesha is simply not possible.

I spent several days doing research at their website and I could find no published expenditures since November of 2012.  I have to admit that this raises a red flag because either the bills are not being paid, or information is being withheld from the public?  Mr. Marek contends that under the leadership of Angie Van Scyoc the town has spent nearly 1 million dollars in legal fees and settlements.  She claims this is false, but again offers NO uncontroverted proof to prove otherwise.

 

Destruction of public town records?

I also had the opportunity to review legal documents from the town’s latest legal embroilment with the town of Brookfield.  In that case – which the town was dismissed from but is still pending appeal – there was an issue where a meeting was held to authorize legal representation by the town.  Documents of this authorization were mandated by the court, yet the town of Waukesha failed to timely file them.

When that failure was challenged in court, mysteriously the town attempted to demonstrate that the meeting was held on December 27, 2011.  However, apparently the town clerk was not present at this meeting and the chairman (Angie Van Scyoc) allegedly kept handwritten notes. Van Scyoc shared these alleged notes with the town clerk and then the notes were destroyed.  Yes – Public documents were destroyed by the town clerk!

During the course of this legal action Judge Kieffer had reservations about the notes being destroyed:

15        THE COURT: Isn’t it unusual. I think

16        it is, I do.

17        It’s unusual to destroy the notes of a

18        Meeting. It’s unusual to later ratify an act that

19        presumably was documented.

(p.21 at sources below)

Please read (pages 17-22) at the state courts website here.  Otherwise you can view a PDF version here (pages 17-22)

This one instance sure makes a person wonder if, and how many other public records have been destroyed under the leadership of the current town chairman?

 

Law governing the keeping of public records

State law requires the town clerk to be present at all town meetings and keep an accurate record/minutes of all meetings. (See Wis.Stat.§ 60.15)  Moreover, all public records are to be safely kept and preserved. (See Wis.Stat.§19.21, et seq.)

Despite claims by Van Scyoc of transparency and compliance to open records laws I see no listing of expenditures for the past 3-4 months on the town website.

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