CLARKSBURG -- With the town books off by more than $113,000, officials have agreed to hire an auditor to review 2013 finances.
During a joint meeting between the Finance Committee and Selectmen last week, officials discovered that town records show a balance of $113,071.91 higher than the actual bank balance.
The discrepancy derailed a plan to begin discussing the fiscal 2015 budget, with Finance Committee Chairman Mark Denault calling it a "moot point."
It's not the first time the town has been plagued by accounting errors: the annual town meeting was delayed for several weeks last year after a similar problem was discovered.
"I don't know if we're better off today than we were last year," Denault said.
A limited scope audit by Scanlon & Associates on fiscal year 2012 found a $56,000 discrepancy between the treasurer's ledger and general ledger.
"We agreed that if the variance stayed at $56,000 ... a journal entry would fix that," Denault said.
But the variance has instead grown by nearly $80,000, he said.
"We still haven't identified what is wrong," Denault said.
"It's unacceptable that our cash number changed by that much money in 12 months," committee member Lori-Anne Aubin said. "I can't support doing an entry to reverse that."
Members discussed the possibility that the additional money was attached to bills that were paid, but not recorded properly.
"It could be [nearly] $80,000 that could be found," Denault said.
Selectmen Chairwoman Lily Kuzia and Selectman Jeffrey Levanos agreed to pursue an audit with Scanlon & Associates of fiscal year 2013.
Officials also decided that town Accountant Christa Marsh would contact the firm to find out how much the town owed the company for the previous audit and how much a new audit would cost.
Officials at the meeting also discussed the school budget with Northern Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jon Lev.
Lev identified several variables to this year's budget, including state aid and whether Rowe would join the superintendency union, a move that would reduce Clarksburg's administrative costs, he said.
Discussion also focused on how the town would fund a preschool program in town hall at an estimated cost of $250,000.
Denault stressed that he agreed with the educational benefits of preschool, but noted the other issues in town that needed money. The highway department has vehicles parked because they need to be fixed and many roads are in need of repair, he said.
The Finance Committee will meet with Lev and the head of town departments in the coming weeks to plan for fiscal 2015.
To reach Edward Damon:
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