Clarksburg puts off annual town meeting to sort out $250K deficit


CLARKSBURG -- Facing a $250,000 deficit for fiscal 2015, Clarksburg for the second year in a row, has put off its annual town meeting until June.

Officials are considering a Proposition 2 1/2 override and drastic cuts to make up for the shortfall.

During a joint meeting with the Finance Committee on Tuesday, Selectmen voted to extend the annual town meeting to June 18 to give them more time to draft the budget.

Finance Committee members expressed frustration over the dire budget picture as well as improper record keeping the town has faced for the past two years.

In February, officials agreed to hire an auditor after discovering the that town books showed a balance of $ 113,000 higher than the actual bank balance.

Members went into the two-hour meeting confident they had found an untapped source of revenue -- roughly $250,000 in a sewer enterprise account, according to information from town Treasurer Melissa McGovern-Wandrei. But it was soon discovered those funds are most likely restricted to maintaining the sewer infrastructure.

Chairman Mark Denault said the problem was exacerbated by a $132,000 fine for not following proper procedures in certifying its free cash, or funds left over from the previous fiscal year. The final certified amount from the state Department of Revenue is $80,000.

"There’s no other way to say it -- that’s due to poor practices, poor accounting, and filling out forms for the state with bad numbers," he said.

Potential cuts to create a balanced budget could be $98,000 from the school budget, which would bring the town’s contribution to minimum spending; Chapter 90 road funds, and money scheduled to go into a highway department capital fund.

The town also has a dire need of a new truck for the highway department and a strong desire among residents to establish a preschool program, and it was unclear on Tuesday how those would affect the budget.

Officials expressed hope that an upcoming audit by Scanlon & Associates, the first full audit since 2010, will help bring accounting procedures up to date.

Both committees will meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

To reach Edward Damon:

or (413) 663-3741 ext 224.

On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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