The Eldredge, Fox & Porretti audit followed a scathing state Comptroller's Office audit of the school system that found numerous instances of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer monies within the district. In August 2008, the Board of Education hired EFP to scrutinize the $119.5 million capital improvements project, and to probe expense reimbursements and financial transactions involving former Superintendent Steven L. Walts and his employee cabinet.and subsequently get picked up by InsideNoVA:
Regarding Walts, auditors determined that while he may have had high cell phone bills during the months he was preparing for a new job in Virginia, the Greece school district was obligated to pay those bills under his employment contract. Auditors did criticize him and other former district officials for "excessive" travel expenses, including out-of-town hotel stays with room costs of $350 per night and up and a California trip that cost the district $2,100 in airfare.
Auditors also found Walts made several trips to Virginia between March and July 2005 and did not record those days as vacation days, something auditors called "a consistent pattern of activity" that cost the district nearly $10,000. Auditors said Walts "essentially spent the last week of his (Greece Central School District) employment conducting personal business."
During Walts' seven-year stint as superintendent of the Greece (N.Y.) Central School District, over-charging by contractors on projects related to a 2001 Capital Improvement Plan budget were in excess of $200,000. In examining the CIP, the third-party auditors confirmed insufficient documentation, change order issues and inconsistent labor rates charged by contractors.The audit for the Greece Central School District can be read here.
"Quotes for work were often presented as a lump sum amount without any breakdown of labor, materials, or overhead and profit amounts," the document states. It also mentions that on many occa-sions, contractor invoices were found lacking in detail, in some cases just listing the amount due."
It's interesting reading like these gems that make me wonder why the superintendent's contract was renewed over the summer. When stories like these pop up, we can begin to point the fingers at those who had voted "yea" to renewal. Had I been on the school board two summers ago, I would have gladly voted for a severance package, and we would have been rid of this character, and perhaps have been able to find a far better, less shady, less soiled person to lead this school system. But no. The taxpayers ultimately pay the price.
I must wonder how well this will go down with the voters come 2011.