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Sacks sets off firestorm

Ballston bookkeeperfired by supervisor, position defunded by board

— The Ballston Town Board voted to abolish the position of town bookkeeper following the decision of Supervisor Patti Southworth in November to fire the woman who previously held the position for more than a decade.

The three Republican board members did not agree with Southworth’s decision to fire former bookkeeper Joann Bouchard and at a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, voted to abolish the position and defund it from the 2012 budget. Members explained the purpose was to save the town from having to pay two salaries in the future in case a replacement bookkeeper was hired by the supervisor, or if a court ordered the town to reinstate Bouchard.

“The bookkeeper duties can now be performed by Supervisor Southworth, as they were done prior to the use of a bookkeeper,” said Board Members Tim Szczepaniak, Mary Beth Hynes and Kim Ireland in a prepared statement. “The supervisor will have to re-prioritize her daily activities to ensure that the town’s fiscal health and well-being are her top priority.”

The Republicans claim Bouchard was fired on Nov. 17 for providing councilman-elect Bill Goslin with a flash drive that contained the town’s financial information. At a previous meeting, the board had voted to allow Goslin access to the records so he could to get up to speed on the town’s financial situation before taking office, rather than making him file requests under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

“The resolution did not specify how Goslin had to receive the information,” said Hynes.

At its Nov. 22 meeting, the board asked Southworth, a member of the Independence Party, to reinstate Bouchard to her position, but she refused.

Southworth said would not comment on why she felt Bouchard needed to be fired, calling it a “personnel issue.”

“I will say I think the public would have wanted me to do what I did, if they knew what I know,” said Southworth.

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