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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Charlestown audits and apologies

Attacking the messenger with incorrect information is wrong

By Stephen Hoff 

This article originally appeared as a letter to the Westerly Sun. Steve's in-depth analysis of Charlestown finances have run in Progressive Charlestown. Some good examples can be found HERE and HERE and HERE.

I have been a vocal critic of Charlestown’s financial management over the past few years, specifically detailing the issues involved.  I have a unique perspective having audited municipalities as a CPA and having worked as a Finance Director in municipalities for more than a decade.  My concerns have been substantiated by our past auditor as well as our current auditor who issued their report on January 30, 2023, to the State of RI.   

On January 2, 2023, [former CCA Town Councilor] Bonnie Van Slyke chose not to take issue with the specific charges that I raised, instead choosing to claim that I had never been a CPA in CT.  

In short, she chose to assail my reputation in The Sun because she couldn’t intelligently rebut the substance of my assertions.  To put this in perspective Ms. Slyke was essentially attempting to shoot the messenger because she didn’t like the message.   

On January 20, 2023 the Director of the License Services Division of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, Michael Elliott, confirmed in writing that I had been licensed in CT as a CPA #7351. 

He also stated that he issued an email to Ms. Slyke advising her of this fact on the same day.  I have waited to write this letter until now in the hopes that Ms. Slyke would do the right thing and amend her letter to The Sun of January 2, 2023, apologizing for her public comments impugning my reputation.  

Thus far, she has chosen not to do so which speaks volumes about her character.   

I stand by my earlier public statements regarding the Charlestown’s financial management, but I will not restate them now.  Suffice it to say that the most recent audit has findings of 3 "Material Weaknesses" which is highly unusual and condemning.   

The auditors themselves will present these findings to the Town Council on March 13, 2023 at 7 PM.  I recommend all interested parties attend this meeting and challenge the auditor directly if they disagree with their conclusions.