On March 11, 2020

Who’s misleading whom?

Dear Editor,

I was quite taken aback by the quote from Windsor Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Mary Beth Banios in the March 4 Mountain Times in response to Killington’s School Board Representative Jim Haff’s lobbying Killington residents to vote “no” on a rather dubious presented (by Banios) $21 million budget. Her quote is below:

“It is unfortunate that an individual, who is also a board member, made false and misleading claims about my performance as a superintendent, the FY21 budget, and the financial management of the district,” Banios said. “This individual’s comments do not represent the position of the full board, collective finance committee, our auditor or the current finance director.  When a trusted elected official misrepresents facts  in a public meeting related to a budget, it makes it hard for voters to make informed decisions around how their public dollars should be spent.”

Banios makes all sorts of general statements and seems to be speaking for other school board members, finance committee members, the independent auditor and the current finance director.

First off, when did she become the spokesperson for the School Board, the finance committee and the independent auditor? These are people and entities which oversee her and she has no business usurping their voice, especially when she offers no specifics as to what these supposed misrepresentations are supposed to be.

From what I have gathered regarding this budget process Banios presented a “bottom line” budget with absolutely no line item detail and expected the board to rubber stamp it without any review.

The board’s job is to review the details of what makes up the budget, then approve it. If they do not see the detail there is no way to determine if management’s performance is in line with the budget. That’s why you have a budget. Apparently Banios’s justification is she didn’t want to go running to the board for approval of any deviations from the budget. Well that’s why you have a budget and a board, to oversee things and get answers to any variances in the actual spending vs. what they approved.

The board exists for that very reason.

As to misrepresentations by Haff in regards to the deficits, within two days of the budget vote the following was published in the Vermont Standard:

“An independent auditor has found a series of budgeting errors that resulted in the Windsor Central Supervisory Union overspending anywhere from $200,000 and $700,000 in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. WSCU Superintendent Mary Beth Banios said Wednesday that the mistakes appear to have been made prior to the completion of the school district merger in 2019.”

So where are these “misrepresentations?” And if you want to get into who’s giving out misleading information, maybe Ms. Banios might want to look in the mirror.

As a $140,000 per year superintendent, the buck stops at Banios’ desk, at least it should. She is responsible for management of the district’s spending whether or not financial responsibilities were delegated to the so-called finance person. Apparently, at least part of the reason the deficit(s) were not identified earlier was that millions of dollars worth of journal entries were not posted to the accounting system. The excuse given by the “finance person” was that he was not an accountant. Well any “finance” person should at least have a basic understanding of the accounting cycle or else they have no business in finance, at least not at $110,000 per year.

So let’s get some meat on those false, misleading and misrepresentation bones so we can understand what  Banios is referring to when criticizing Haff’s doing his job.

Vito Rasenas,

Killington

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