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Jan 19, 2010 6:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton comptroller jumps ship for school job

Jan 19, 2010 6:44 PM

East Hampton Town Comptroller Janet Verneuille resigned her town post on Friday, a day after she was appointed the business director for the Sag Harbor School District.

Ms. Verneuille will replace Len Bernard, who left the district last month to return to East Hampton Town Hall, where he was appointed budget officer by new Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. Mr. Bernard also served as the East Hampton Town budget officer from 2000 through 2003 under former Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Ms. Verneuille, a Certified Public Accountant, was hired as comptroller a year ago by the East Hampton Town Board to help right the foundering fiscal ship in East Hampton. When the new administration took over, it cut her salary from $130,000 to $90,000 after Mr. Bernard was hired.

A former member of the Sag Harbor School District’s volunteer Budget Advisory Committee, Ms. Verneuille was chosen from among three candidates for the business director’s position who were interviewed by district Superintendent Dr. John Gratto.

The School Board voted unanimously on Thursday night to appoint Ms. Verneuille to the post, which carries an annual salary of $120,000.

“We’re really happy to be able to get her,” School Board President Walter Wilcoxen said on Monday. “I think she’s fantastic. She brings a whole different skill set that I think will be a big help to us. We’ve been caught a little short-handed in the budget process this month.”

The district will have to continue its budget development process without Ms. Verneuille for a couple more weeks because she will not take her new position until February 1. Mr. Wilcoxen said the staff in the district business office, two full-time employees and two part-time consultants, has been filling the gap left by Mr. Bernard’s departure at the start of the new year.

In a prepared statement, Ms. Verneuille said, “Over the past year I threw my heart and soul into unraveling and resolving the financial issues in the Town of East Hampton. Although I am disappointed to leave the job half completed, the situation that developed left me no choice. Fortunately, I could not be happier with the opportunity that presented itself at the Sag Harbor School District. I am excited about my future and look forward to working with Dr. John Gratto and the school community in Sag Harbor.”

In her statement, she made it a point to single out the two Democratic Town Board members, Pete Hammerle and Julia Prince, for thanks, “as well as the many department heads and employees of the town, who unconditionally supported my efforts to clean up and begin implementing the much needed internal controls in the government of the town. I wish the current administration in the Town of East Hampton the best in their endeavors.”

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It is a real loss for our town, when there is still so much work to be accomplished in untangling the chaotic, so-called bookkeeping and finance. The forty thousand dollars "savings" was never an issue, because that much and more will have to be spent hiring outside accounting consultants to complete the job. Clearly the "Wilkie Team" did not want her around, in spite of her apolitical position. The best of luck to Ms. Verneuille in her new position. We'll miss you, Janet!
By P.A.B. (23), East Hampton on Jan 19, 10 5:02 PM
A year ago the public was in a frenzy to install a comptroller, in part, to do a forensic audit so we would never have to see a budget officer facing felony charges and a budget millions in the red. A forensic audit would investigate past practices, indicate the line of responsibility and show who did what. A good idea and it appeared the audit was going ahead. Mr. Bernard, the newly installed budget officer, was a previous budget officer. Was Ms. Verneuille's forensic audit finding the truth so ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 23, 10 7:24 AM
Actually Ms. Verneuille chose to go someone else for more money. She was re-appointed in East Hampton but not for the right price. Besides an outside auditor is doing the forensic audit...as should be the case...since Ms. Verneuille was hired by McGintee.
By happynow (19), east hampton on Jan 23, 10 11:27 PM
I'm sure she left fo a higher paying job. She seems to have been doing an excelent job of getting the answers to how to manage,track, and balance the budget (The real budget is the responsibility of the town board.) And she seems to have been doing it without interference or benifit of a "budget officer". If you want to eliminate an employee you either fire (which might anger the public) or force her to leave (reduce salary,redefine responsibility,etc) thereby having the apperance it was her choice. ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 24, 10 9:43 AM
Budget officer position seems akin to twon manager with many more resposibilities than comptrolle who accounts for money coming in and going out. Comptroller technically has no budget formulation responsibilites per civil service description. Southampton has comptroller and in addition Mr. Bloes who is like the person who oversees all things financial and operational. Budget officer job description is much broader than comptroller. It includes department liaison, operational policies, operating ...more
By happynow (19), east hampton on Jan 24, 10 1:09 PM
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