Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
To the editor:
I commend the Independent for the excellent coverage of the accounting mess in Wellfleet. As a lawyer who spent many years in the world of finance (private not municipal), I am astounded by the disclosures in your articles. The fact that the town did not have an accurate balance sheet or general ledger, the A and B of responsible accounting, boggles the mind.
Where were the independent auditors when this was happening? Yes, they wrote a “scathing” management letter, but that was not nearly enough. They should have insisted on an in-person meeting with the select board and finance committee to present the full extent of the problems. I would have thought that the finance committee would serve as an independent audit committee, but the chairman of the committee describes its role as “reactive.”
Now we have learned, in last week’s issue, that Wellfleet’s budget for fiscal 2022 was balanced, with the assistance of state officials, using the well-known financial principle of Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. To quote the acting town administrator in describing how the budget was balanced, “We stretched it to the absolute maximum.” The draft 2023 budget shows a deficit of $2.1 million, and the town’s stabilization fund has been drained of $639,000 since June 2021, which must be replenished for Wellfleet to maintain its AAA bond rating. As if this were not enough, the town’s books have still not been balanced, and the free cash account has not been state certified.
The select board and finance committee owe it to the citizens of Wellfleet to devise and publicize a plan for how the town will emerge from this financial house of horrors, as the taxpayers undoubtedly are going to foot the bill for the mess that has been allowed to develop for years.
‘Profits Above People’
To the editor:
Kudos once again to Christine Legere for her coverage of the dangers posed by the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station when it was in operation and now during the decontamination process [“Shape of Bay Means Poisons Would Linger,” Jan. 27, page A1].
When companies like Holtec put profits above people and federal agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are on the side of businesses rather than on the side of citizens, we have to rely on the fourth estate to keep us informed about how to fight back and protect ourselves.
So, kudos to the Provincetown Independent for being our reliable source for what is happening around us.
Access to Driver Licenses
To the editor:
The Driver License Bill (H.3456 / S.2289 in the Mass. legislature) has been granted an extension to March 4. That’s good news, but why the delay in reporting it favorably out of the Joint Transportation Committee?
I have heard testimony from a variety of top officials (including from law enforcement) that all Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, deserve access to a state driver license. I find it hard to understand why this bill and its earlier iterations have languished for more than a decade in the legislature while 16 other states have enacted similar provisions.
To their credit, our state legislators Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Sarah Peake have endorsed the bill as joint sponsors. Now is the time for residents on the Outer Cape who support driver license access for all to email their state legislators and members of the Joint Transportation Committee (see bit.ly/dff-email-transpo-cmte) to urge passage during this legislative session.
Letters to the Editor
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