By CAROLINE MURKY
Recorder News Staff
NORTHVILLE-- In light of recent state audits exposing the ministerial oversights of local municipalities, village officials will be taking a closer look at the Joint Youth Program in order to ensure funds are being spent effectively and efficiently.
At a village meeting last week, Mayor John Spaeth said he recommends the village oversee the production of the program, instead of the Joint Youth Commission, which currently has oversight of the program.
Currently, the commission consists of two village trustees, two town trustees and two Northville Central School District representatives.
However, the program's budget falls under the village, and the town contributes some funds.
Spaeth said there have been no audit issues with Northville. However, he said it would be easier to track and report spending with the village supervising the program and the budget.
"This is a $54,000 budget item, in the village budget, which the town pays us money for," Spaeth said. "My concern is with it being under the offices of a joint committee, that there is some lack of control over that."
Although Spaeth said there are no problems with the budget or its management, he believes there is more discretionary spending than there should be -- and this needs to be tightened up.
He said providing services to the youth is important, and would like to continue to and even grow the program.
He said the village will look into saving money in some areas of the Joint Youth budget, and use the money saved to go toward more programming.
"Then, it just makes sense that, since the funding shows up under the village budget, that the program is controlled by the village," he said in an e-mail. "It gives clearer reporting.
He said the commission was always intended to be an advisory committee to the village and the town.
The mayor said there will be no change in the role, except the commission will report back to the village now.
Spaeth said he spoke to Northampton Supervisor Jim Groff and the chairman of the commission, councilman William Gritsavage, and they are already on board with the idea.
Village trustee Patrick Barnett made a motion to have the village take over accountability of the youth program.
Trustee John Markiewicz first asked if this would affect youth directory Molly Whittaker in any way. Whittaker, who was present at the meeting, said she was appointed director of the youth program before there was ever a commission. She said she pushed for a commission, because there was rarely any communication with the village.
However, she said it would be a more effective to have one municipality to answer to.
Markiewicz seconded the motion, and all trustees approved to have the village oversee the program.
At a town meeting Wednesday, Groff said he agreed it would be in the best interest of everybody to let the village handle the oversight of the program.
But, not everyone felt the same way.
After the meeting, councilman Arthur Simmons said he is on the youth commission, and for the past several months he was looking into the program and coming up with recommendations to better use the budget.
"I just feel, speaking for myself, I wasted a lot of time," Simmons said.
Groff said the committee would continue to collect data such as attendance records, if not more statistics for the village to review.
Simmons said he and Gritsavage were appointed by Groff to a sub-committee to evaluate the use of the program.
The councilman said the committee was evaluating if it made sense to run a year-round youth commission, or just run it as a summer program.
"I felt we were coming up with some conclusions," Simmons said. "Apparently he wants the subcommittee to back away and wants to talk about it. John can do what he wants."