BRADLEY BEACH — An audit report on borough finances for 2019 was due on Sept. 30 and the auditor contracted to perform notified Bradley Beach officials Tuesday that he had not yet started on it.
The notification, coming in the middle of a mayoral campaign, touched off an agitated discussion at Tuesday night’s borough council meeting and brought both an apology and an angry complaint of “poor performance” by the auditor, from Mayor Gary Engelstad, who is not seeking reelection.
At the meeting, Councilman Al Gubitosi, said he was worried by the lateness of the report but also questioned an Aug. 24 letter sent to the borough chief financial officer, Susan Rice, by the auditor, Gerard Stankiewicz claiming difficulty reconciling the accounts of the borough’s three utilities — the current fund, the sewer utility and the beach utility — through Dec. 31, 2019.
Mr. Gubitosi, who is running to succeed Mr. Engelstad as mayor and had raised concerns about borough finances before joining the council last year, said, “I am very anxious to see these audit reports because I am actually concerned that these problems he [Stankiewicz] is identifying now for the first time.”
He added that “it would be hard to believe these are all recent developments.”
“In those earlier years he [Stankiewicz] never referenced any concerns about our financial accounting practices and now he is referencing a multitude of concerns,” the councilman said, asking, “Are these, in fact, truly new developments or are these the developments that our auditor has ignored in the past few years?”
In a phone interview following the meeting, Mr. Engelstad, voiced anger at Mr. Stankiewicz, for the delay in producing the audit and accused him of “several years of very poor performance — a reference to the auditor’s notification, citing financial inconsistencies after giving borough finances clean bills of health in 2017 and 2018.
“We will explore every option we can legally to ensure that the town is treated fairly,” Mayor Engelstad said.
The mayor, who has endorsed Mr. Gubitosi’s opponent, Larry Fox, to succeed him, said he has instructed the borough attorney to investigate and will consider filing a complaint with the state. He also said the borough has not yet paid Mr. Stankiewicz and his firm Samuel Klein and Company for the 2019 audit.
During the council meeting, Mayor Engelstad said he accepted blame for the situation, saying, “It’s on me, it’s an appointment that I made and it’s a huge disappointment … I apologize that this individual [Mr.Stankiewicz] , who serves a number of towns, has collapsed in his services to the borough.”
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