By Edward Damon, North Adams Transcript
CLARKSBURG -- Finance Committee members continue to urge Selectmen and town officials to implement new financial practices.
During a meeting Wednesday night, members expressed their frustration over what they perceive to be a lack of action.
"It’s no less frustrating tonight than it’s been for the last three or four months," Chairman Mark Denault said.
The town saw issues during the last budget cycle, when the Finance Committee found numerous errors in the town’s accounts.
The town also had its annual town meeting delayed until June while the Department of Revenue (DOR) certified the town’s free cash, funds that were leftover from the previous fiscal year. The money was needed to fund several warrant items.
A financial management review by the DOR’s Division of Local Services, requested by Selectmen in August 2012 and released this June, outlined many other issues with the town’s record keeping.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Finance Committee members noted that numerous practices have yet to be implemented.
"It worries me that since August, we’ve sat on procedures and practices," Denault said.
Denault noted that an audit of fiscal 2013 has yet to be completed, though the original expected completion date was August 1.
Town Accountant Christa Marsh reported that an auditor would be present to do fieldwork and also meet with Selectmen and Town Administrator Tom Webb on Tuesday, Sept. 24, But neither her or Tax Collector/Treasurer Melissa McGovern regularly work that day, she stated.
"Why wouldn’t the auditor come when you’re hear on the 25th? It doesn’t make sense," Denault said.
Denault also questioned why Marsh nor McGovern had received additional training in the accounting software, Softright. Voters appropriated funds to provide training at the annual town meeting in June.
"We’re months away from when we voted that in," Denault said.
Each member expressed their concern that the same errors in the towns books would carry over to the next fiscal year.
"We may be in a position where we can’t defend numbers again this year," member Lori Aubin said.
"I think the other thing that bothers me is we all sat up there at town meeting. We put forward we were going to fix and repair the practices that have caused the issues," he said. "The more we have to do that, the more walls come up in front of us."