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Outside firm to account for finances

The Town of Hamburg used to have Spute and Brown. Now it has Drescher & Malecki.

After the retirement of Finance Director Jim Spute and Bob Brown, his top deputy, earlier this year, the town has taken the opportunity to cut spending.

It has hired the accounting firm Drescher & Malecki to take the place of the two men, a move calculated to save about $175,000 a year.

Hamburg will pay Drescher & Malecki an estimated $50,000 a year, considerably less than the $225,000 in salaries and benefits the two men were receiving.

The deal is on a trial basis.

"We can terminate the contract at any time if we're not satisfied with the job they're doing," Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli said.

"This firm was the cheapest, and in our minds the best qualified," Supervisor Steven Walters said.

The firm already has extensive experience in town finances. It audits many municipalities around Western New York and has a similar management contract with Clarence.

Wayne Drescher, one of the company's founders, said his firm had not been the auditor for Hamburg, one of the factors that makes the management arrangement possible.

"Where we do audits, we can provide recommendations," Drescher said. "But we can never make decisions."

In Hamburg, his firm will be able to make decisions.

Its duties will include helping to draft the town's budget, managing day-to-day operations of the Finance Department, monitoring outlays, planning financing for capital projects and special projects, and managing borrowing and debt.

Drescher said the town's cost eventually should go down, since it will be billed by the hour.

Rates range from $140 per hour for the company's partners and $120 an hour for managers down to $15 an hour for administrative help.

"The best thing we can do is be there less rather than more," he said. "As the town reduces its special districts and as the town's staff gets more involved, costs should decline."

Some districts will merge or be turned over to Erie County.

He praised the town's staffers, whom his company will oversee.

"The strength is they have a good base, a good accounting staff," Drescher said. "[Spute and Brown] left behind a well-trained and very good staff who can do the normal operations."

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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