Friday, June 25, 2010

Life's Leaks


I spent last evening with several dozen residents who have been plagued by the continual leaking NYC tunnel that runs near their homes. My heart goes out to all of them who are faced dealing with “life’s leaks” on top of raising families, running households and making a living.

Here are my thoughts in a “nutshell:

It is nice that the DEP Commissioner finally and publicly admitted the culpability of his agency but that still does not resolve the problems that the home owners are faced with. I feel the frustration of those folks in Wawarsing who return home to deal daily with flooded homes, mold infested basements and swamped properties. Let's put their needs first and address the tunnel repairs once we have helped the homeowners.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Clean and Green Economic Engine

GARDINER – Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve contribute $12.3 million to the local economy, according to a study released Tuesday.

Gunks attractions boost area economy by over $12 million annually
Business Opportunities Management Consulting of Rensselaer conducted the study for the three attractions and found they have over 392,000 visitors among them who spend over $13 million annually and support 350 local jobs.

Annual local sales taxes from the three amount to $459,000.

The three GUNKS attractions are but a small portion of Ulster County’s tourism economic generator, said County Executive Michael Hein.

“We’re talking about a $474 million operation; it’s the largest part of Ulster County’s economy,” he said. “State parks and these types of operations are critical to drawing people to Ulster County.”

County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said the Shawangunk Ridge park/preserves are “great examples of ‘clean and green’ contributors to the economy.”

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Monday, June 21, 2010


On Monday June 21, 2010 members of the Ulster County Office of the Comptroller became a PROUD PURPLE PARTNER as the Hudson Valley Alzheimer's Association launched their BIG PURPLE campaign in an effort to assist families that are struggling with Alzheimer's disease.
To find out more log onto


Our RECOGNIZING SUCCESS recipients at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Nine high school students who are making a difference.
From left to right:
Erica Martin-Wallkill
Nissa Gustafson-Onteora
Alex Rose Schemitsch-Rondout Valley
Mairead Fogarty-New Paltz
Justine Marsh-Marlboro
Keri Robinson-Highland
Ana Flores-Ellenville
Comptroller Elliott Auerbach
(Missing-Chelsea Defino-Saugerties and Shaina Huleatt-Kingston)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A.G. Investigation at Central Auto


ALBANY, NY (June 16, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of an Ulster County employee for stealing auto parts meant for government-owned vehicles and filing false work orders to hide the theft.

According to the complaint, Anthony Gallo, 44, of Saugerties, employed by Ulster County Central Auto garage as a Fleet Maintenance Facilitator, placed an order for auto parts but allegedly stole and installed them on a truck that he personally owned. Gallo then filed a false work order claiming he performed repairs on the County truck to hide the theft. Central Auto is a County garage where government-owned vehicles are repaired and maintained.

Gallo was charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, felonies that each carry a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, as well as Official Misconduct, a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Gallo was arraigned before Ulster Town Justice Susan Kesick and released on his own recognizance pending a court appearance on July 21, 2010.

"This individual is accused of breaching public trust and using his position to rip off taxpayers for his own personal gain,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office remains committed to rooting out government corruption and we will vigorously prosecute those who violate the public trust.”

Additionally, the criminal complaint alleges that in November of 2009, Gallo replaced six tires on his truck with County tires. Gallo worked as a mechanic and an administrative supervisor, making and keeping business records including invoices and vouchers, at Central Auto from November 2006 to December 2009. Central Auto, located at 125 Maxwell Lane, Kingston, is responsible for repairing and maintaining government-owned vehicles.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, the New York State Police and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General YuJin Hong and Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office Vincent Bradley under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General for Public Integrity Ellen Biben.

The charges against Gallo are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$437 Million of Public Debt


KINGSTON, NY (June 15, 2010)… In a continuing effort to mine, audit and review data valuable to public policy decision making, Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach released a BY THE NUMBERS report on the Total Public Debt Outstanding in Ulster County.

“One the most revealing aspects of this data,” said the Comptroller, “was not so much the total dollar amount but the fact there are 75 taxing jurisdictions in Ulster County that contribute to that total debt amount.” The 75 municipal taxing districts within Ulster County, include:

• 41 Fire Districts
• 10 School Districts
• 19 Towns
• 3 Villages
• 1 City
• 1 County

These 75 districts have a combined total debt outstanding (debt remaining to be paid over time) of $437,201,643.

“We in government have a special obligation not only to monitor how much public money is spent and for what purposes, but to understand the extent to which our taxing districts are layered,” explained Auerbach. “When we understand the layering we can begin to explore opportunities for more inclusive and integrative processes for establishing debt policy at the community level,” said Auerbach.

The report relies on data submitted by governmental entities which are required to file annual financial statements with the NYS Office of the State Comptroller.

The Ulster County Charter crafted the Office of the Comptroller to serve as an independent analyst of county functions and finances. In this role, the Comptroller has identified the importance of sharing data and information as a means to spur creative thinking. BY THE NUMBERS reports provide data from which the user can draw conclusions or pose valuable public policy questions

(The complete report appears at

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Comptroller Recognizes Successes From Nine High Schools

KINGSTON, NY (June 14, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach is pleased to announce the recipients of his 2010 Recognizing Success Program.

Recognizing Success is an initiative that acknowledges the exceptional student who has stepped forward to “make a difference” in school or in the community.

“These are exceptional young adults who changed lives through their efforts,” said Auerbach, “and I feel it is important to recognize their initiative and ingenuity in pursuit of a public purpose goal.”

The following students are recognized:


Ellenville- Ana Flores
Highland- Keri Robinson
Kingston- Shaina Huleatt
Marlboro- Justine Marsh
New Paltz- Mairead Fogarty
Onteora- Nissa Gustafson
Rondout Valley- Alex Rose Schemitsch
Saugerties- Chelsea Defino
Wallkill- Erica Martin

These young people were nominated by their school principal or guidance counselor. Each of them is remarkable and has worked to “make a difference” in a variety of ways, for example:

Serving as a ‘Reading Buddy’ helping students with disabilities to develop their reading skills

Building and repairing homes for impoverished families in Kentucky;

Teaching English and how to cook using solar coolers in Nepal;

Implementing a mentoring program between freshman students and upper class students

24 Hour Fast for Hunger, American Cancer Society “Relay for Life”

Working with Habitat for Humanity, programs for children, peer tutoring, organizing a clothes drive

Volunteering to help students in and outside school

President of the Interact Club

Fundraising for leukemia/lymphoma and breast cancer research

“The nominations we received spoke beautifully about these young people,” said Auerbach. “It gives us needed hope for the future to know that these students understand leadership and are willing to practice it.”

The Comptroller will be recognizing the students at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast on June 17, 2010. Each student also received an award at their school awards ceremonies.

Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s Recognizing Success program is designed to bring well-deserved notice and accolade to students whose efforts achieved a valued public purpose and, in so doing, demonstrated leadership among peers.

Friday, June 4, 2010


UC Comptroller Calls For Changes to NYS Medicaid Law

By Paula Sirc (From the pages of the SHAWANGUNK JOURNAL 06.03.10)

KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach believes the county should be allowed to audit Medicaid providers. Auerbach, the self-proclaimed "people's watch-dog," said his office has joined with other county comptrollers across the state in calling for a revision of the law that currently restricts their offices from conducting a full-scale audit of the program.

Auerbach said the NYS Department of Health's (DOH) directive does not grant local authorities the power "to conduct traditional audits, administer recovery of overpayments, or use provider sanctions."

Since the county receives Medicaid claims directly from local providers and is financially responsible for almost 25 percent of each claim, Auerbach believes it should play a larger role in the audit process.

New York's DOH grants comptrollers limited powers to audit. In 2008, some $1,300 of Ulster County's Department of Social Services (DSS) client monies had been reported stolen from its Medicaid spend-down program. In 2009, after taking office as Ulster County's first comptroller, Auerbach initiated an audit of the county program.

The Medicaid spend-down program allows certain people to qualify for Medicaid — even if their income is higher than allowed under the eligibility criteria — by paying a portion of money out of pocket each month to the department. The amount of money collected from those clients can range between $25 and $500 a month, Auerbach said.

The comptroller's audit revealed an additional loss of $3,424 in client monies, procedural lapses in cash management, and a lack of internal controls.

Until the law that prohibits his office from a full audit of the program is repealed, Auerbach said he will use his resources "to audit what I can, where I can."

The comptroller claims that Ulster County's DSS has made improvements in its accounting practices since the audit. "They've made some inroads, however, there still are some blind spots that we are not totally comfortable with and it truly has to do with internal controls," he said.

Copyright © 2010, Electric Valley Media LLC
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The First 500 Days of the Office of Ulster County Comptroller

KINGSTON, NY (June 1, 2010)… January 1, 2009 not only ushered in a new form of government in Ulster County, it also marked the beginning of Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s effort to create an independent agency of the people serving to protect the public’s interest.

“May 16th marked the 500th day of our new form of government here in Ulster County,” said the county’s first comptroller. It is a milestone for responsive and responsible government and we wanted to document the culture of change and use this indicator to look back, catalog our successes and track our thresholds” explained Auerbach.

500 Days of Accountability” is a comprehensive report of initiatives and outcomes the Comptroller has compiled that signifies the efforts he and his staff have undertaken to discover and report on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which County government is run.

“We began our first few months authoring two reports on internal control practices within the County. That analysis identified several deficiencies, including a flawed financial management and reporting system. In addition, it brought to the surface the need to protect County staff with whistleblower protections, which the legislature subsequently acted upon” said Auerbach.

“We reviewed and improved the claims auditing function by which my staff serves as the last line of defense in assuring only valid, authorized claims are paid,” said Auerbach, “as a result I re-instated the use of claimant certifications to create an additional layer of accountability.”

The “500 Days” report lists a range of issued audits and reports from small cash counts to the massive review of the Ulster County Department of Health. “Our analysis of the Department of Health identified broad opportunities for improved processes and controls,” said Auerbach, “it also swept out from under the carpet the long-known need for control over nepotism – family hiring and working for family.” That report revealed how seriously dysfunctional government can become when a husband/wife team had unfettered control within the public domain.

“In this position it pays to remain dexterous,” said Auerbach, “like cautioning a legislative committee not to allocate funds of tens of thousands of dollars for a convicted killer’s medical bills without a full audit of the charges.”

As a result of creating a Comptroller’s Blog, Auerbach has had real-time communication with taxpayers. His fraud prevention workshop for not-for-profit organizations was well received and Auerbach said his Comptroller’s Advisory Committee has challenged him to ask new and different questions of County operations.

“Because we pull back the curtain to let the light shine on County government,” said Auerbach, “I established heightened ethics standards for my staff. It is our job to reveal the facts, not spin them.”

Elliott Auerbach is the first elected Comptroller in Ulster County. 500 Days of Accountability can be found on the Comptroller’s website at