Updated: 08/09/2013 6:56 PM
Created: 08/09/2013 6:50 PM WNYT.com
By: Dan Bazile
The Town of East Greenbush nearly topped a Wall Street Journal list of communities in financial trouble. NewsChannel 13 also found a State Comptroller's audit in 2009 warning of financial troubles and another 2012 indicating those troubles had gotten worse.
Town officials in East Greenbush want to reassure residents they're not sinking deeper into the red financially.
"No, things are not getting worse. They're actually improving," said Keith Langley, East Greenbush Town Supervisor.
This, even though the town made a Wall Street Journal list identifying twenty municipalities across the country saddled with financial problems.
A state comptroller audit in 2009 and another one in 2012 does back up that claim. They pointed out financial concerns with years of fiscal mismanagement and questionable contracts and payments to town officials.
The town was left more than $2 million in debt.
“We are working together and have put plans into effect to begin to reduce the budget deficit in the Town of East Greenbush,” says Langley.
He and Town Board Member Phil Malone says they've paid down part of the debt. The plan is to take another chunk off in this year's budget.
But they're not going after some of the questionable payments to officials that include thousands of dollars in stipend and sick leave money, as recommended by the comptroller's audit.
“We conferred with counsel. It just wouldn't be cost effective for the town,” said Malone.
Overall, the comptroller's office said the financial picture in East Greenbush is improving. They say this year they identified 24 communities in fiscal stress and East Greenbush was close but it was not among them.
“With their fiscal stress monitoring system. We scored very well on that,” said Malone.
In that financial stress report, the town scored a 37.5.
A 45 and above is considered to be fiscal stress.