By Katy Savage
KILLINGTON—In the first Select Board meeting since voters narrowly approved a $4.4 million budget on Town Meeting Day, board members expressed concerns about errors and omissions in the town report—continuing conversation from an informational meeting prior to the vote earlier this month.
“I was embarrassed by the way the budget was presented in the town report, especially by how difficult it was for the people voting on it to follow it,” said Select Board member Stephen Finneron last Tuesday, March 20, according to a PEGTV recording.
Finneron was elected chair of the board last week.
Some expenses printed in the town report were incorrect. Projected golf course revenue was mistakenly left out of the report and the estimate for the combined town and school tax rate was wrong.
Jim Haff called the report “a disgrace” at the informational meeting prior to the vote. Haff was elected to a three-year seat on Town Meeting Day. He continued his criticism as he reviewed a revenue and expense report last Tuesday.
“We need to get our paperwork in a little bit better of an order,” Haff said.
Haff mentioned differences between what was budgeted and what was spent in the capital fund. He wanted a way to track where the unexpended money went.
Haff called the budget one of the biggest problems facing the town.
Town Manager Deborah Schwartz apologized for mistakes as she read a letter to the public. She had sent the letter to the Select Board prior to the meeting.
“I know my fellow residents of Killington are upset about the inaccurate information printed in the 2017 annual report,” Schwartz read. “I don’t blame them.
“I’m very sorry this happened and I’m taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said, mentioning she planned to have two proofreaders review budget numbers prior to printing them going forward. She hoped this would catch mistakes. Killington recently switched to new accounting software called New England Municipal Resource Center (NEMRC), which officials said partly accounted for errors in the town report.
Select Board members planned to attend a two-hour training with a NEMRC representative along with Schwartz and other officials who use the system.
Haff suggested having an auditor review the budget and accounting software.
In the 2 ½ hour reorganizational meeting last week, Finneron also updated the board as a representative of the Killington Fire Department Facilities Review Committee. Voters approved establishing a reserve fund for a new police, search and rescue, emergency responder and fire department building on Town Meeting Day.
Finneron hopes to present a design to voters next year. Construction would begin in two years or more.
The Select Board also voted to go to tax sale for all delinquent properties prior to 2017.
Haff requested an executive session at the end of the meeting to speak about personnel and contracts. He asked everyone to leave.
“It’s just for the select board,” Haff emphasized. “Nobody else.”
Schwartz and others left the room.
The next Select Board meeting is April 3 at 7:30 p.m.