BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Concerns are overflowing about Erie County's Water Authority. Now hiring practices and spending will be under review during a wide-scale audit.
The Water Authority hasn't been audited by the County Comptroller since 2000. Now, with the County Comptroller seat is up for grabs, a controversial office is under review. Current Erie County Comptroller David Shenk is putting the authority under the microscope.
"It's been too long. It's overdue," Shenk said. "It's not a sacred cow, in my opinion. It needs to be reviewed, just like any other department."
Twelve years after the last audit, Shenk is sending two auditors in, looking for action on previous recommendations. Some things auditors will be looking for: implementation of rules regarding the operation of county cars, proper management of cash flow in and out of the office, and looking into budgets and spending.
Shenk said, "You don't know exactly what you're going to find until you get in there and you look around."
The County Comptroller insists Rob Poloncarz's new job with the authority has nothing to do with this latest audit. But this is an election year, and Shenk's opponent, Stefan Mychajliw, is skeptical.
Mychajliw notes Shenk was appointed last year by Mark Poloncarz and argues Shenk has a major bias.
"Had this been done months ago, then maybe we wouldn't have had a chef from Wegmans in an administrative position at the Water Authority. This should have been done from day one, many months ago. Had this been done before, the 'friends and family plan' would not be back in Erie County Government," Mychajliw said.
Shenk fired back, "It's a little easier to hold a press conference on a Sunday morning and say you're going to do things than actually follow the rules, develop a plan and try to do a comprehensive audit."
The County Comptroller's audit could take up to three months to complete. Water Authority representatives would not comment on camera, but do say they will fully cooperate with auditors.
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