Long overdue
   Aug 9 2000 12:00AM  By Terry Pfeifer Pfeifer's Pforum

Seymour residents have been through some trying times in the last nine months. 

What appeared last October to be a simple error in calculating tax revenues snowballed by January to include an estimated $3 million deficit.  Residents were charged a supplemental tax, and town department managers had to come up with some creative cuts to help Seymour survive. 

Because of all of this, town officials commissioned a "forensic audit" from Checkers Inc., a company comprising former FBI and IRS agents. 

That report has been a long time coming. 

First Selectman Scott Barton expects to receive the report any day now.  He said he will release it to the public after he has had time to read it thoroughly. 

As much as I want to get my hands on that report, I understand his desire to review it completely. 

The report likely is complicated, dealing not only with town issues and finances, but possible wrongdoing by town officials. Barton is right to be cautious. 

The town, and residents, would not be served unless town officials read the report thoroughly and have time to digest its implications. 

I know I plan to go through the report with a fine-toothed comb. What it has to say will hold great interest for any Seymour taxpayer.  Will there be answers to the huge questions about how the town got into such financial trouble? 

What I want to know is whether anyone will be held accountable for the mistakes that were made. I'm not looking for heads to roll, just for some answers. 

I sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I want to know who knew of the problem, and why nothing was done about it earlier. 

Residents have been waiting a long time for these answers, maybe longer than they should have.  I hope the Checkers report is a meaty one, with the answers we all seek. 

I'll certainly feel cheated if, after all this time, the results are inconclusive. 

Residents have been put through the ringer in the past nine months, and to their credit, have dealt with the situation with dignity - even when angry. 

This also has been an interesting nine months for me.  I have learned so much about the people and the places that make up the Valley. 

I learned the best places to bring my kids to play, to catch views of the river and to find people to talk to. 

And most of all, the people to talk to have been the most fascinating. 

I want to thank you all for the time you've spent with me, either by reading this column or by taking part in the stories I've covered. 

My time with you has been invaluable. 

This column represents the opinion of Editor Terry Pfeifer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Hometown Publications. 

  ©The Valley Gazette 2000