Buffalo, N.Y. - One audit of the Erie County Water Authority has been completed and now, another one is on its way. Monday night, literally hours before he left office, former Erie County Comptroller David Shenk released his audit of the Water Authority.
During investigations into political hiring and high salaries at the Water Authority by 2 On Your Side, those running it have tried to deflect criticism about its spending and hiring practices by saying that "we have the second lowest water rates in Western New York."
Shenk's audit however takes a look at how water rates here compare with other water authorities across the state, and found that Erie County's rates are in the middle of the pack.
The lowest according to the audit was Suffolk County on Long Island at $203 a year, next were the Erie and Monroe County (which includes the Rochester area) at $257 a year, the most expensive was Onondaga County, the Syracuse area, at $363 a year.
When it comes to the number of employees per customer, the Erie County Water Authority ranked at the bottom of those surveyed along with Suffolk county.
Both the Monroe and Onondaga Water Authorities had fewer employees.
Shenk said he wanted to compare salaries at the water authority here with those other authorities, but that the other authorities didn't respond to his requests for information.
It's not known why Shenk's office simply didn't look at the public budgets of the other authorities.
2 On Your Side has reported on how the politically well-connected often wind up with good paying jobs at the Erie County Water Authority.
Among them, the Republican party chairman's sister-in- law was hired for a $55,000 a job year as a secretary, its head of personnel makes $144,000 a year and its deputy director makes $137,000 a year.
New Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said although he's happy Shenk completed his audit before he left office, Mychajliw says that won't stop him from doing his own audit of the Water Authority.
Scott Brown: "Are you willing to look at salaries over there and the number of employees they have?"
Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: "Absolutely Scott, the same way that 2 On Your Side did, I plan on using our audit team to do exactly that. I think it's really important to see how those salaries compare to other water authorities across the state and also to the private sector. We plan on going a lot deeper."
Mychajliw says he plans on starting his audit of the Water Authority within the next six months. He says he's also going to take a look at hiring practices at the Board of Elections and the Erie County Clerk's office.