SELECTMEN’S MEETING

SEPTEMBER 5, 2006

 

Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

 

Selectman Bond, Selectman Andrews, and Selectman Spataro were present.

Selectwoman Brunelle entered the meeting at 7:30 PM.

 

Town Accountant’s Resignation

 

The Board met to discuss the resignation of Lisa Higgins and to come up with a short-term remedy and long –term plan for a permanent replacement.

 

Chairman Perkins said he had spoken to Attorney Peloquin who drafted two (2) letters to Ms. Higgins.  The first accepted the resignation, and the second eliminated, or limited, her computer usage capabilities and/or locked her out.

 

Attorney Peloquin had spoken to Attorney Gallitano who indicated his client does intent to return to complete next week.

 

Mr. Healey, along with the Board’s Secretary, will meet with Ms. Higgins on Wednesday, September 5th, to determine the status of different projects in the Accountant’s Office.

 

Mr. Healey said Ms. Higgins would be given a password at that time to do whatever work she can to complete the aspects of closure. 

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To authorize the Town Manager to retrieve all Town-owned property in        the possession of Lisa Higgins.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Mr. Healey said he only knows of a laptop and keys.

 

Selectman Bond said there needs to be a policy for the definition of Town property.  He said certain work products could be considered Town property.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

            VOTED:  To make the exit door in the Town Accountant’s office an alarmed    ‘Fire Exit’ subject to the approval of the Fire Chief.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Chairman Perkins asked Mr. Healey to define with Ms. Higgins what she has documented for time coming to her, including sick, vacation, etc.

 

Chairman Perkins said a consultant makes the most sense for a short-term solution.  The consultant could close the books and have day to day oversight.  He said the FinCom needs to be approached to determine how to pay for a consultant.  He noted that there will be money in the Accountant’s budget to pay for a consultant.

 

Selectman Bond asked if the consultant would be part-time or full-time.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

            VOTED:  To invite the auditor to meet with the Board to discuss what their       suggestions would be on a more micro level.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectman Andrews said he had asked about having the auditors send someone immediately to the Town to help out.

 

Mr. Healey said that may present a conflict.  He noted the auditors have suggested other consultants.

 

Selectman Andrews asked if we definitely know it would be a conflict of interest to have someone from the auditors here.

 

Mr. Healey said, in this case, the auditors would be auditing their own work.

 

Mr. Healey suggested also consulting with the Treasurer/Collector, after speaking to Ms. Higgins, to determine what remains to close the books.  She could also make suggestions regarding a consultant.

 

Chairman Perkins said he had a discussion with Ms. MacDonald earlier today and had asked those questions.  Ms. MacDonald believes the books were closed last year by a consultant who charged $1000.  The year before it cost $3000.  He said it’s not a “big ticket item” and shouldn’t take a long time.  He said the individual who did it last year is familiar with the books.  He asked if under the procurement law three (3) quotes would have to be secured.

 

Mr. Healey said he did not believe it does.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle entered the meeting. 

 

Jane Lopes said, typically, the Town would normally know what the Free Cash situation is at this time of year.  She noted it would affect the Fall Town Meeting which has not yet been scheduled.

 

Chairman Perkins said Town Meeting wouldn’t be until late in October, or early November.

 

Chairman Perkins said a suggestion has been made to look at the Charter regarding the long-term situation.  He said it may be time to decide if the Town wants one (1) financial officer rather than split the position between an elected and an appointed position.

 

Mr. Healey said you could also have a combination, noting that the Financial Officer would typically direct all the financial officers of the Town. 

 

Chairman Perkins said an Accountant would still be needed.

 

Selectman Spataro asked about “compressing” the Accountant’s position with another.

 

Chairman Perkins said, with a Financial Director, an Accountant and Treasurer/Collector would still be necessary.

 

Mr. Healey said those positions would report to the Financial Director and “may not pull down the same salaries as they do now”.

 

Selectman Spataro asked about eliminating a position and giving someone else a pay raise for picking up the additional duty.

 

Mr. Healey said he could work with the Board’s Secretary to come up with proposals for some alternate organization structures.

 

Mr. Healey said he could also speak with some of the professional associations.

 

Chairman Perkins asked about posting the position of Town Accountant.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To send the Job Description for Town Accountant to Labor Counsel to         submit comments prior to next week’s meeting.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

It was noted that the Description has to be consistent with the Town Charter and Statutes.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said someone will have to be appointed to sign warrants in the meantime.

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board

            VOTED:  To authorize Nancy Robbins to sign payroll and vendor warrants.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectman Bond asked about “notifying the world” that Ms. Higgins has left and is not authorized to sign documents on behalf of the Town.

 

Chairman Perkins asked Mr. Healey to find out what vendors Ms. Higgins has contact with.

 

Selectman Bond said from a pure litigation standpoint, Ms. Higgins would still have apparent authority until the vendors know she is gone.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To ask Labor Counsel about notification to vendors.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectman Andrews suggested Mr. Healey discuss this with Labor Counsel prior to meeting with Ms. Higgins.

 

Jane Lopes asked if there has been any indication that Ms. Higgins will file a lawsuit.

 

Chairman Perkins said there is nothing new to report.  Her previous letter had threatened a suit.

 

 

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To adjourn at 7:50 PM.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

 

                                                           

Diane Henault, Secretary

BOARD OF SELECTMEN