By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Town of Grand Island’s insurance carrier will reimburse the town for nearly all of its loss from a theft in the Golden Age Center.
Without discussion, the board voted 5-0 during its monthly meeting Tuesday to authorize Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray to sign paperwork as a condition of receipt of the insurance benefits in relation to the thefts.
The resolution also said the town accountant will “separately account for such funds to facilitate their application towards funding future programs of the town’s Golden Age Center in a manner to be determined by the Town Board.”
The theft was discovered in March of 2018 but was not revealed publicly until the Town Board’s 2019 reorganization meeting by Councilman Mike Madigan.
Without naming the person under investigation for the theft of $116,000, McMurray read a statement explaining the matter.
“The Town Board has become aware of the theft of certain town funds. The issue was the discovered following the town’s analysis of accounts used for the town’s Golden Age Center programs.
“At the direction of the Town Board, the town accountant and attorneys for the town have been working cooperatively with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office to review the transaction history regarding bank accounts utilized for the Golden Age Center programs for the period from 2011 to 2017.
“As a result of this investigation, the town determined that it had suffered a loss of approximately $116,000. A former employee in the town’s Golden Age program, who the town believes to be responsible for the loss, has repaid the town a small sum of money towards the mishandled funds, leaving a balance of approximately $110,000. The town maintains insurance against such losses and reported this matter to its insurance carrier. The town’s insurance carrier recently notified the town that it will provide coverage for the entire loss, a modest deductible, upon receipt of an appropriate release and assignment agreement. The anticipated insurance proceeds will be in the amount of $109,421.22. The Town Board has implemented certain financial management protocols to address this type of risk and is committed to ensuring that such events do not occur anywhere in town government.
“The District Attorney’s Office remains actively engaged on this matter and consequently the town will refrain from further comment at this time to avoid prejudicing any potential criminal prosecution.”
McMurray, to address what he said were questions raised since the theft was revealed, said: “There were no current town employees, board members or other current officials in any way involved in this theft. The identified theft was the act of one person who no longer works for the town and has not for some time. The vast majority of the thefts occurred before any member of the current board took office. This discovery and the resolution of this matter was due to the considerable efforts of the current board and hard-working members of our team, including our town accountant.
“While recovery through our insurance claim is good news, the town will continue its efforts with the district attorney to seek full restitution. This is a very sad story and the board will not see to revel in it. Due to the ongoing investigation by the district attorney, no further comments are deemed appropriate by the board.”
After a public hearing, the board voted 5-0 to designate School No. 5 and the Town Hall cupola located at 3121 Grand Island Blvd. for historic preservation status.
Both are located at Kelly’s Country Store.
Bill Koch, chairman of the Historic Preservation Advisory Board, spoke during the public hearing and said, “I think I can speak not only for myself, but all the members of the board, and we strongly recommend the granting a landmark status in the school and the cupola as Grand Island’s first local landmarks.”
In a motion from Madigan, the board reaffirmed its support of the Second Amendment and opposition to “New York state’s infringement on individual’s Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
After a long discussion on the wording of the resolution, the board voted to oppose long gun registration, social media and search engine history background checks, requirements for gun owners to purchase insurance for each gun legally owned, and/or restrictions that otherwise impair the civil liberties of lawful gun owners.”