Council Elects to Replace Longtime Auditor, Again
In a party-line vote, borough council agreed Tuesday to hire Garbarini & Co. as the borough's auditor.
At the recommendation of Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski, borough council has tentatively agreed to bring on Carlstadt-based firm Garbarini & Co. as its new auditor, replacing Steve Wielkotz, who has been the borough's auditor for over a decade.
“It appears [Garbarini & Co.'s] last set of political contributions of any consequence was in the 1980s,” said Trawinski, who opposed Wielkotz' re-appointment due to his history of political contributions. “There were some in the year 2000, but none of recent vintage.”
Mayor Jeanne Baratta and Deputy Mayor John Cosgrove both supported making the switch.
“I think it’s time that we change only because, from being in business, you don’t want to have an auditor for longer than a decade, you want a different set of eyes,” said Cosgrove, who is the founder and president of Atlantic Handling Systems, a designer and seller of conveyor and storage systems.
“I have nothing against Wielkotz,” Cosgrove continued. “I’ve known him for a long time, but I know in my business I’ve changed [auditors], and in getting a new set of eyes it gives you a little different perspective.”
The state’s comptroller, Matthew Boxer, recommends that state agencies switch auditing firms at least every 10 years and that they refrain from hiring firms that have made political contributions in the preceding year.
According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) database, Garbarini & Co. last contributed to a political campaign in October 2010. The firm’s founding partner, Paul C. Garbarini, who died in October, had not contributed politically since 2000. His son, also named Paul, who had served as his partner in the firm, has no record of political contributions.
Democratic council members Lisa Swain and Kurt Peluso both opposed the appointment of Garbarini & Co., opting to continue supporting Wielkotz as borough auditor.
“We had them in the past and, so far so good,” Peluso said.
If the switch to Garbarini & Co. is finalized, it won’t take effect until July 1, or after Wielkotz has completed working with the borough on its refinancing of the community center.
“We had a conference call the other day and the general consensus was that [replacing Wielkotz now] would set the timing back,” borough manager Tom Metzler explained.
The council's original choice to replace Wielkotz as auditor, Fair Lawn-based firm Lerch, Vinci & Higgins, was ultimately rejected after being found in violation of Fair Lawn's pay-to-play ordinance. One of its partners, Gary Higgins, contributed $,1000 to the Bergen County Republican Organization in 2011, according to the NJELEC database.
A look at the political contributions since 1984 of the auditing firms/auditors considered by council:
|Steve Wielkotz||Ferraioli, Wielkotz, Cerullo & Cuva||Gary Higgins||Lerch, Vinci & Higgins||Paul C. Garbarini||Garbarini & Co.|
|Contributions to Democrats||$88,360 (98%)||$87,325 (90%)||$8,550 (67%)||$66,125 (41%)||$125 (16%)||$2,500 (34%)|
|Contributions to Republicans||$1,450 (2%)||$9,999 (10%)||$3,600 (28%)||$86,300 (54%)||$650 (84%)||$2,430 (33%)|
|Contributions to BCDO||$64,050||$3,950||$4,100||$7,750||$0||$0|
|Contributions to BCRO||$0||$750||$1,000 (violation)||$40,560
Source: NJELEC database
*Donations to nonpartisan candidates not included