Riverhead’s audit committee now elected-leader free

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhed Town's audit committee will now comprise all citizens, but no Town Board members.

Riverhead Town’s recently created audit committee is now an “independent” audit committee.

That’s because the two Town Board members who initially sat on the three-member board have removed themselves, and two residents not connected with town government have taken their place.

“As Riverhead begins to live within its means and crawl out from underneath the deficits of past years, it is helpful to have an independent group of citizen monitors to look over our shoulder as we make financial decisions.”  Supervisor Sean Walter said in a press release issued Monday.  “In this case, many cooks enhance the broth.”

Mr. Walter and Councilman John Dunleavy were initially appointed to the audit committee when the Town Board created it on Nov. 1, along with Jack Orben, a retired investment banker and portfolio manager from Wading River who had previously served as a member of the town’s industrial Development Agency.

That was when the Town Board was having difficulty finding people to serve on the committee, other than Mr. Orben, and the resolution creating the committee stated that it was required to have at least one Town Board member. At last Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, the board eliminated that requirement and instead passed a resolution requiring all three members to be community members with financial or audit backgrounds.

That same resolution reappointed Mr. Orben to the committee, and added Steve Patterson of Riverhead, who recently retired as chief operating officer of Paterson Energy, a family-owned oil company, and who has long been an active fundraiser for Peconic Bay Medical Center, and Susan Bandiera of Jamesport, a senior account manager with Neefus Stype Insurance Agency in Aquebogue and the treasurer of the North Fork Breast Health Coalition.

Mr. Patterson and Ms. Bandieri both have been active in numerous civic organizations over the years in Riverhead, Mr. Walter said.

The Town Board unanimously approved the new appointments.

The audit committee will monitor Riverhead’s progress in keeping within its annual budget, the town’s future financial goals, and long term spending plans, Mr. Walter said.

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