To the Editor:

On Tuesday, you'll cast a vote on the town's budget.

Your vote indicates you believe in the amounts set forth by the town government, and you trust it to manage your tax dollars wisely.

According to the town's audit report, you should strongly reconsider that trust.

I believe the audit report indicates Mayor Patricia Murphy and her finance team did not follow the town charter, in some cases pressing on legality according to state statutes, or even generally accepted accounting principals, when it comes to managing tax dollars.

Some of the problems have been reported for at least three years, and by more than one audit firm.

Other issues were unique to this audit. All of the problems are due to a lack of concern for your vote and your tax dollars.

The budget was so mismanaged the accountants could not match the figures provided by the mayor with the budget you voted on.

Funds were appropriated or transferred without seeking Town Council or Board of Finance approval.

This is not my opinion -- this was stated clearly by the auditors.

Your town government does not properly account for the funds you've entrusted them to manage.

While some citizens may view accounting standards as complicated or picky, accounting principals are accepted by every town, state and public company in the United States. New Milford is not exempt from these rules.

I believe, according to the auditors, New Milford does not properly account for many funds, including the pension fund. New Milford makes incorrect journal entries, even when the auditors provide the journal entries. And these errors happen year after year.

This is not my opinion -- this was stated clearly by the auditors.

A question the mayor should answer is, "Why was the audit report late?"

Could this be the reason she sought bids to replace the current firm? However, the auditors are not at fault. In fact, the mayor's signature is on the document stating why the report was late.

The reason for the delay could be the need to reconcile the books of the school system with that of the town. It is because the town's finance department waits until after the end of the fiscal year to do the work they should do every single month.

And the finance department still can't do the work; they need the auditor's help.

Again, that is not my opinion -- this was clearly stated by the auditors. And the mayor's signature is on the document.

As one member of the Board of Finance asked, "How can this happen? How can records not be kept?"

These are very good questions.

I have been seeking answers to financial questions since last summer. I have researched budgets, bond refinancing, audit reports and town management's responses.

In my opinion, the mayor has not provided professional management of millions of your tax dollars. My opinion has been bolstered by the independent auditors.

When asked, the auditors stated the town's report was "below average." I think "below average" was a generous explanation.

My opinion has also been strengthened by the state police investigation into more than $18,000 missing from the Building Department. It points out the town has a big problem with "internal controls."

If this audit report concerns you, and you want to review it for yourself, you'll have to visit the town clerk's office.

While many towns post audits online, New Milford does not.

If you want to do research, but not sure where to start, read the Federal Single Audit report for 2009/2010, pages 7 to 14.

If you're concerned how your tax dollars are managed, join me and start asking questions.

Once again, cast your vote on Tuesday. But consider the mismanagement of your tax dollars.

Jeff Winter

New Milford