A recent state Comptroller’s Office audit of the Town of New Paltz’s finances showed the fiscal disarray former Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson left in her wake.
Two prominent issues reported in the audit were unplanned operating deficits in two water districts and a sewer district, which resulted from Hokanson and her administration’s poor financial management and record keeping.
We at The New Paltz Oracle feel it is unacceptable for our tax dollars to be thrown around so carelessly and cause such great deficits as a result of sheer irresponsibility.
In addition, auditors stated that former Town Clerk Marion Cappillino did not prepare written minutes properly, which meant they were not available to the board or, more importantly, the public.
When we elect leaders, we expect them to do their jobs and raise our small town to another level, not bury it in a monetary grave.
As stated in the audit, the fund balance deficit for Water District 3 rose from $5,770 in 2008 to $18,783 in 2010 and increased from $2,781 in 2008 to $18,200 in 2010 for Water District 4. The most drastic deficit was in Sewer District 6, which went up from $10,144 in 2008 to $61,635 in 2010.
These numbers clearly indicate a mismanagement that is simply staggering.
Students might scoff at the idea of caring about state audits and all the numbers that seemingly bear no meaning to them, but we need to care. As students, we live here for the majority of the year — for some, all year. That is a lot of time to spend in a place and we need to care about what happens here.
We need to be aware of the financial issues affecting our second home because, although we may not always see it, they affect us too. We must hold those in power accountable for their egregious mistakes and ask them to do better because we too, have a stake in this community.
We pride ourselves on being an open-minded and progressive campus that is in touch with what is going on around us, yet every time election season comes around, a disappointingly low number of students wander into voting booths.
It is time that we take a stand, as well as an active role in maintaining the well-being of our town.
We encourage students to become more aware of the issues plaguing their town by reading local news sources or the minutes of local board meetings — if they are recorded and submitted correctly.
Now especially is the time for us students to get involved.
Campus groups have set up various stations where you can register to vote in New Paltz in less than a few minutes. Is it so much to ask that you take a moment to care about the town you live in?
As a demographic, we represent a portion of the voting base that can truly shape this town’s decisions. If we want to live up to this progressive standard that we so proudly boast, it is time we recognize the issues and vote accordingly.
We recognize that our town has many issues to address, including the state of our water and sewer systems, but now we must deal with them and move forward to allow this town to thrive once again.