Audit calls for some tidying up in Young’s books

WALSTON — The chairman of the Young Township Board of Supervisors said officials will further explore issues pertaining to billing, bookkeeping and other items after a recent audit revealed some questions.

“We will further study some of the records before we conclude what has taken place,” Chairman Andrew “Butch” Meterko said following the board’s meeting Wednesday. “There’s no evidence of anything yet.”

Carl H. Vulcan, a CPA and forensic accountant from the Catanese Group of Johnstown, was prepared to report his findings to the supervisors, but the township’s solicitor, Kipp Lukehart, advised that they should first hear what he had to say in an executive session, which they entered at 7:24 p.m.

Returning to the meeting at 7:52 p.m., Lukehart explained to citizens gathered that the Catanese firm came on board as a result of a resident’s sewage bill that was considered delinquent.

The resident disputed the bill and was asked to produce his receipts, he did so, and officials learned that the delinquent status “was not right; he had the receipts to show that he had paid,” Lukehart said.

The question then became, how did he have his receipts, yet there was no record that he had paid, and the account was still considered delinquent?

Lukehart said he first became aware of the situation in November 2011, and advised the supervisors that they should have the independent firm study the records, a process that began in December 2011.

Vulcan said as of Wednesday, he had been “pushing about 250 hours” into the audit.

Cash payments for sewage — which Lukehart described as “not good” — were one of the areas examined, as there was one book, but no checks and balances and no way to ascertain the numbers.

“There was no good proof as to who did it and how it was done,” he said.

Cash payments for burning permits and building permits were also examined, as well as payroll, vacation and sick days; fees for tapping into sewage lines; and seeking which municipalities should have been paid for sewer projects and fees via Rural Utility Services grants.

As part of the audit, Vulcan also made some recommendations about how the township should implement a completely new billing system that allows for better checks, balances and accountability — suggestions that supervisors will seriously consider, Meterko said.

Vulcan also said that the audit is “not drop dead done,” but that he reported what he had found based on the time and funding allotted to him.

“We want to pursue documents that we haven’t found, and make the citizens and the township feel safe,” he said.

The audit first concentrated on the sewer fund, but led into other areas as more questions arose.

“In doing this, I’m giving you what I’ve got,” Vulcan said. “We’re not finding a smoking gun. But things have to be tidied up, and we’ll look for some documents and go from there.”

Former chairman Mike Defelice told the citizens present that he was on the board at the time the audit began, and that when the township transitioned from former secretary-treasurer Lee Kent to current secretary-treasurer Mary Ann Redding — the state recommended “cleaning the books.”

“There’s nothing hidden and nothing to hide,” he said. “Have there been a lot of headaches over the last three years? Yes.”