Wilton Selectmen and treasurer to discuss policy and procedure

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, August 07, 2018 10:17AM

The Wilton Select Board will meet with Treasurer Bill Chalmers today to discuss policy, procedure and division of duties, after Select Board Chairwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault made allegations last week that Chalmers was harassing office staff, an allegation Chalmers denies.

During a meeting on July 30, Boissonnault made reference to an incident between Chalmers and town office staff, though she did not mention specifics besides his “demeanor” toward the staff being inappropriate.

In an interview Monday, Chalmers said the board had not informed him that he would be discussed during that July 30 meeting, which he attended only after looking at the posted agenda. Nor have they given him an agenda for items to be discussed during the meeting scheduled for Aug. 7. He denied any behavior that could be construed as harassment.

“You’d have to ask Kellie-Sue [Boissonnault]. I don’t know what she’s talking about,” he said. “I haven’t discussed it with her, but I know that there hasn’t been any complaint filed.”

There was an issue with payroll the week prior to that meeting, Chalmers said, where funds were insufficient to be able to cash checks and funds had to be transferred. Checking whether funds are sufficient is a duty of the town’s financial officer, Chalmers said.

When asked if he had disagreements with office staff, Chalmers said “Yes, I had a disagreement. She didn’t tell me I needed to transfer money.”

Boissonnault also made reference at the July 30 meeting to Chalmers refusing to sign certain items that had already been approved by the Select Board, which he had requested more information on before signing, telling him that was beyond his proscribed duties as a treasurer and that it hindered work in the town office.

During the July 30 meeting, Chalmers replied to that claim by saying he had signed the checks after his questions had been resolved, within a few days.

On Monday, Boissonnault declined to comment on the incident that precipitated her comments on July 30, and said that all issues would be addressed during the Tuesday, Aug. 7 meeting.

Selectman Kermit Williams, in an interview on Monday, said he disagreed with Boissonnault’s assessment that there had been any harassment.

“Anything that happened, I didn’t observe it, and I don’t feel that I can say one way or another what happened. But I don’t agree that there has been any harassment by the treasurer toward town employees,” Williams said.

Williams said there had been no official complaints made to the Select Board, other than a prepared statement read by Financial Officer Deb Harling at the July 30 meeting, which did not cite a specific incident.

Harling’s statement made reference to “a couple of issues that occurred last week” that the Select Board was “aware of” before starting her statement.

“I just want to address this by saying I came to Wilton with 23 years of municipal experience. I came here because I thought my experience could help the town of Wilton move forward with the issues that had happened,” Harling said, reading from her statement. “I did not come here with any preconceived ideas of any elected or appointed official or of any employee. I did not come here to have my ethics or my experience called into doubt.”

Harling also made reference to trying to create a “cordial and professional relationship” with the people that she has worked with.

Williams said Harling’s statement didn’t have a “specific complaint.”

“I’m not really sure where that’s coming from,” he said.

During the July 30 meeting, Boissonnault suggested the board look at policies and procedures relating to the town’s financial operation, up to and including limiting the time frame that Chalmers could come into the town office.

Chalmers said Monday that as an elected official he does not report to the Select Board and the board does not have a say in when he can conduct his business.

The town does need to put into place financial policy and procedures, Chalmers said. He has been provided a copy of a potential set of procedures to review and give feedback to the town on.

Wilton does have an employee policy against harassment, which states, “The Town of Wilton recognizes the harmful effects of harassment and will not tolerate harassment in the workplace on the basis of race, color, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law.”

The policy requires that breaches of harassment policy be reported, and that the board respond promptly to reports and take corrective action as appropriate

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.