I often wonder: What happened to all the elected officials who, with quiet competence, show up for work and just get the job done? Well, New Canaan is fortunate to have such a person in the form our town’s treasurer, Andrew Brooks. His consistent success as our treasurer is demonstrated through his management of the town’s investments and bank relationships, which have generated over a million and a half dollars of tax savings. In addition, Andrew Brooks has streamlined the town’s bank relationships, and helped with risk identification and remediation. A highly trained and experienced consultant to major corporations in finance and risk management, Andrew Brooks has exactly the resume New Canaan needs in a treasurer.
As NC Republican Town Committee Chairman from 2010-2014, I have been pleasantly surprised how our current twice elected Town Treasurer Andrew Brooks, has grown in office. After a stint teaching low-income students with AmeriCorps and brandishing his Economics degree from Brandeis University; this town native who was first elected in 2013, revamped the Town Treasurer’s role and brought it into the modern age with little support from Town Hall. Andrew has really made a difference in our town government and has utilized his professional experience at two prestigious consulting firms working with Fortune 500 clients assisting them in effectively managing regulatory change and strategic initiatives. If you are a voter who is worried about their tax burden; you should be supportive and grateful that Treasurer Brooks was able to increase our investment earnings by over one million real dollars the past few years. It also appears that Andrew has the support of the NC Audit Committee and has worked closely with them to right the chronic deficiencies that we experienced under our prior Finance Director; who abruptly left New Canaan’s town hall without a clear explanation of the terms of her departure.
There has been a boatload of misinformation propounded by the Democratic candidate for town treasurer and his supporters regarding the role of the town treasurer. This approach appears to be intended to mislead the voters about the integrity of Treasurer Andrew Brooks, who in my opinion has done a superlative job protecting New Canaan’s tax dollars. As mandated by state statute, the treasurer has general oversight of town receipts and expenses, signs authorized checks, and approves bond issues. By contrast, the Finance Department is responsible for accounting, payroll and benefits, budget development, internal controls, financial reporting and debt management. In effect, the treasurer manages the town’s cash but is not responsible for nor manages the town’s accounting and financial reporting functions.
None of the material weaknesses that auditors have identified in New Canaan’s finances in recent years have been the town treasurer’s responsibility, a candidate for the elected office said this week. Nevertheless, the identification of those weaknesses became a focal point for many in New Canaan and what Democrat Rob Fryer said he would do if elected town treasurer is “see that this doesn’t happen again.”
“What CPAs do who work in auditing in large corporate environments—and probably municipal governments, as well—is work with clients to eliminate material weaknesses as and when they occur and as and when arise,” Fryer told more than 150 people gathered Monday night at Town Hall for a debate. He added: “I have had the experience of years and years of eliminating material weaknesses, working with clients to do so and, if I am elected, the town will be my client and I will see that these things get addressed promptly.”
The incumbent town treasurer who is seeking re-election, Republican Andrew Brooks, said that it’s “important to know who has ultimate responsibility for remediating weaknesses” and noted that he was “one of the first people to support the creation of the town’s Audit Committee and commended members of the Town Council for their wisdom in creating that committee.”
A change in personnel at the top of the Finance Department, primarily, led to the elimination of all material weaknesses identified in New Canaan’s finances, Brooks said, and “it is important to know that the town treasurer is not part of the Finance Department.”
“I am totally independent of the Finance Department for the purposes of checks and balances,” he said. Brooks said further that the chairman of the Audit Committee recently made it clear “that there have never been any material weaknesses or deficiencies in my performance as treasurer, and that all the issues that were in the Finance Department, the material weaknesses have been remediated because of my recommendations and the Audit Committee’s recommendations finally being implemented.”
The pair debated during the League of Women Voters’ Candidates Forum. Candidates in all contested races for this year’s municipal election participated, including first selectman and Town Council.
As a practicing Certified Public Accountant over the past 40 years with the Big Four Accounting firms, a major international financial conglomerate and founder of my Certified Public Accounting firm in 1987, which firm is a member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and quality reviewed by the AICPA National Peer Review Division I can accurately and with industry knowledge attest to the outstanding performance of New Canaan’s current Treasurer Andrew Brooks. I have also functioned as treasurer of many not for profit organizations and currently serve as the Treasurer for the Greenwich Council of the Boy Scouts of America. That said, I can conclude that you do not need to be a Certified Public Accountant to function as treasurer for our municipality. The prerequisites necessary for performance in the treasury function are actual treasury experience in cash management and asset management and training in the treasury function. Andrew Brooks has received this necessary training at the international accounting firm of Deloitte Touche LLP and at his current position at Accenture.