By Alice E. Gerard
The Grand Island Town Board voted 5-0 on Monday to hire the EFPR Group as the town’s auditing firm, replacing the Bonadio Group, which has been the auditing company since 2005. The contract with the EFPR Group will be effective from fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2028.
According to Town Council member Mike Madigan, the EFPR Group, an accounting service that provides governmental, not-for-profit, health care, and employee benefit audits, provided a “favorable price” for its services.
“I do think that they are qualified and that they are doing several towns locally,” Madigan said.
Council member Jennifer Baney expressed reservations about the contract. She said, “I don’t think that they interviewed the best. I respect that I am the minority in this, and if this were to be voted through, I would fully support them in this endeavor.”
Madigan said he felt it was past time for the town to switch to a different auditing company. “At this point in time, I think that we are past time to change out. I think that it’s a compromise.”
During the public comment time, several people spoke about the length of the contract, as well as the length of time the Bonadio Group had served as the town’s auditing company.
“We’re talking here seven years? Even that’s too long. We shouldn’t have it more than four or five years at most,” Jim Mulcahy said.
Bill Wilson said, “I think that the contract is too long. In light of some of the stuff that’s been discovered in the past few years, maybe we should take a long, hard look at the record of the people doing it. It’s easy after however many years to get complacent.”
Anthony Mastantuono, treasurer of the Grand Island Fire Co., talked about his own experiences with changing financial policies and procedures when he became treasurer six years ago.
“At that time, there were a number of incidents being reported around the country where different fire departments ended up in the newspapers,” he said. “It was never attractive for them to be there. So, we worked hard to make sure that our name would never appear in the newspaper. One of the things that we did was to change our auditors, just to get a fresh look at things. So far, we’re quite happy with it.”
Cathy Rayhill said that, in her 35-year business career, she had experience with changing auditing firms three times.
“I can fully appreciate the time and effort it takes to change. But I would suggest that there is never a good or desirable time to make this happen, and after the failures of our current firm to review critical accounting controls on cash, it is way past time to make this change happen,” she said.
In other business, the Town Board voted to hire Anthony Fischione as a full-time code enforcement officer, effective Dec. 6. Also, a public hearing was set for 8 p.m. Dec. 6 to discuss local law 9 of 2019, a town tree ordinance.