Select board hammers out financial policies

  •  Wilton Financial officer Deb Harling met with the Select Board and treasurer on Tuesday to discuss putting into place financial policies and procedures. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Wilton Treasurer Bill Chalmers and Select Board member Kermit Williams discuss putting into place financial policies and procedures during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Staff photo by Ashley SaarI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, August 09, 2018 10:44AM

The Wilton Select Board, treasurer and financial officer met on Tuesday afternoon to hammer out financial procedures and division of duties between the financial officials. 

The board, Treasurer Bill Chalmers and Financial Officer Deb Harling were able to agree to a clear division of duties between the financial officer and treasurer positions, with only minor changes to a draft outlining each of their duties. The board and Chalmers agreed that all deposits would be made by the town clerk’s office staff.

Harling agreed to provide Chalmers with monthly reports on the town’s account balance.

The board also discussed a policy for credit cards for department heads, and what limits should be placed on them. The board was in agreement that purchases over $5,000 should first be approved by the Select Board, but disagreed on the fundamental use of the cards.

Select Board member Kermit Williams said credit cards should only be used for purchases when other means are unavailable. One of the purposes of a town administrator, he said, was to create relationships with vendors or otherwise find savings through purchasing consortiums or comparison pricing. His fellow board members, however, said while they didn’t disagree in theory, they also didn’t want to overly tie the hands of department heads from making necessary purchases. 

The board also agreed to bar the cards from purchases related to food, alcohol or entertainment and discussed having a separate card for travel expenses. 

Select Board Chair Kellie Sue Boissonnault reiterated an issue she had brought up in a previous meeting, saying Chalmers had not signed a check that had already been approved by the Select Board, and requested additional information on it. That is beyond his duties, she said.

Chalmers replied that there was one check he had not signed immediately, in order to make a record of why it was being issued. He did not respond to Boissonnault’s assertion he was beyond his rights to do that. 

Williams pointed out there was not a provision in state law requiring the treasurer to disperse funds in a specific time period. 

The board did agree to discuss with employees moving the date of payroll, to give a few additional days for Selectmen to approve pay manifests and for Chalmers to sign checks. 

Boissonnault and Chalmers continued to disagree on another issue – that of a deputy treasurer or, alternatively, a plan for should Chalmers be unable to fulfill his duties. If there is no deputy treasurer, the duties of the treasurer would fall on the Select Board in those circumstances.

Chalmers said though he shared concerns about having a backup in place, he was not prepared to name a potential deputy.

“Based on the contentious atmosphere, I’m not going to subject them to it,” he said.

He also objected to a suggestion from Boissonnault that the board put into place measures allowing the board to more swiftly assume the treasurer’s role, if the need arose. Chalmers objected to that, and Selectman Matt Fish said there was no need for the board to get ahead of itself. If the need arose, he said, the board could just as easily call an emergency meeting to take the steps needed to fill the role, as do them ahead of time.

“I think this is a point of contention, and it’s antagonizing the treasurer,” Fish said. 

Chalmers also took issue with the town offices calling the bank to check whether there were additional approved signatories, which he said bordered on interfering with his elected role.

 Boissonnault refuted that, saying the Select Board and town administrator had the right to talk to the bank as its customers. Chalmers did not deny the information requested was legally available to the board, saying that additional signers, such as a deputy treasurer, would have had to be approved by the board, and the information would have been available in bank reports, but still felt it was an overstep.

The board agreed to review the agreed-upon changes to financial policies discussed at the work session for final approval at its meeting on Aug. 13. 

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