From the Desk of the First Selectman,
Yes, it is July and the warmth of the season is blowing over the fields thick with hay! We do have a lot going on this summer… with outside concerts and movies, a fishing tournament, summer reading at the library, a few trips out of the senior center, and rafting down the Shetucket. And of course, walking on the trails up on the Land Preserve and around the reservoir!
While I often expound on the good things going on in Town of which there are many. We do however have a problem which will be addressed over the next few months that I need to talk with you all about.
You are all aware that the school has informed the Town that they are over budget. Initially school staff indicated they would be overbudget by $82,000, this was in January but they were looking for ways to eliminate that overage. Around March the number jumped up to $91,000. In May the number jumped up again to $208,000 at that time the Board of Education, after being assured by school staff that the number was not going to change, sent a letter to the Board of Finance requesting approval of additional funding.
This request was brought to the Townspeople. At the meeting the numbered increased to $215,000. The decisive vote by the Townspeople turned down the BOE request.
After this action an accounting of all outstanding invoices being held by the BOE (those responsible for the Town side of the budget does not see the invoices relating to school expenditures)was attempted. This was done to assess what vendors would be left unpaid or where action could be taken to mitigate the overage.
The school staff indicated that they were having a problem reconciling their numbers. It also was revealed at a BOE meeting that they were operating off of more than one budget document. After several days of school staff reviewing the outstanding invoices the overage jumped up to $600,000 then increased to $800,000.
While the year has not yet ended the number has not grown in the last week or so.
So, what has happened since this situation unfolded.
The BOE has had an emergency meeting informing the members of this problem. They continue meeting reviewing invoices, BOE budget line overages and possible actions.
The BOF has had a special meeting to discuss the overage, and actions to be taken or considered.
The Town has contacted the State Department of Education who has indicated they will be reviewing the BOE’s books.
The Town has contacted our auditors and asked for an early review of the school’s year end numbers. They will be starting an early review to see what was spent on what.
The Town also contacted the Town’s insurance company to make them aware of the BOE situation.
The Town will be bringing to the BOF the cost of conducting a forensic audit of the BOE books. This decision to conduct such an audit will be put before the BOF at the monthly meeting on June 28th. In addition, the BOE will need to concur with such an audit. This sort of audit is a more comprehensive deep dive into the financial books of the school.
The budget for fiscal year 2018/2019 will be completely scrapped and reworked to ensure accurate numbers are being used.
There will be an informational hearing on this situation in August and I hope many of you can attend. At that time an update on where the investigations regarding the overage will be discussed. This will not be the only meeting on this issue as it could take several months to uncover all that happened.
As always thanks for your support I am looking under every stone to address this situation.
First Selectman since 2007
The Administrative Office of The First Selectman has direct responsibility for oversight and management of the following functions:
Also has indirect oversight of Health and Emergency Medical Services.
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