TOWNSEND -- Financial and personnel procedures were under the microscope in Townsend as a result of a management letter from the town's auditors and a request for a reclassification by a municipal employee.
A letter dated April 1 identified five areas of material weakness in the town's financial procedures. Town Administrator Andy Sheehan shared the communication from Melanson Heath and Company during Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
"It is a little unusual to get five material items. We do have plans to address those," he said.
Part of the reason for the large number is that the town has not gotten a management letter for some time, he told the board.
The recommendations did not come as a surprise, he said, as the town usually does an annual audit but does not always get the letter.
The letter recommended several changes for the treasurer, including reconciling all bank accounts monthly, clearing old items from the cashbook as soon as possible, making sure the amounts on the warrants match invoices rather than use a rounded number for transfers and to establish an account to keep track of issued checks that were never cashed.
"We are working to implement these items now," Sheehan said.
The letter said that because one employee was doing all the billing activities for the Water Department there were no checks and balances, Sheehan said. The department is planning on dividing the duties between the two clerical staff members. If one staff member is out of work, the superintendent will assume those duties.
A more formal risk-assessment process is needed, according to the letter. Town Accountant Kim Fales is working on that and will bring a proposal to the board for adoption in the next couple of months, Sheehan said.
The assessors have already established a spreadsheet to maintain a log of abatements in response to the letter, the town administrator said. "It's fairly simple through an Excel sheet," he said.
The town is in the process of implementing new financial software. The purchase of the $60,000 system was approved at Town Meeting. The software will address the issue raised in the letter stating the treasurer's office does not maintain records to support tax title accounts, Sheehan said. The software should be up and running in the beginning of July.
"I'm glad to see we're moving forward. The first step is recognizing the problems. We're working on the solutions," said Selectman Bob Plamondon.
The board discussed a draft of a new personnel policy regarding reclassification of positions. Under the new policy an employee requesting a change of classification will have to provide a completed questionnaire, an amended or edited job description and other information as needed to support the request before meeting with the selectmen.
The selectmen will determine if the reclassification merits further review. If it does, the request will be forwarded to a consultant. If not, the parties will be notified.
The proposed policy will be disseminated to other town boards at the request of Chairwoman Sue Lisio. "I think it would be good to send to the various boards as an FYI," she said. The selectmen will vote on the policy at their next meeting.
Sheehan will also work on a draft for a new overall personnel policy to present to the board late in June. "I will probably start with what we've got," he said. He plans on taking some things out, adding others and "grossly paring down" redundancies, he said.