Audit turnaround in Alna

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 8:00am

This year’s wait for Alna’s audit was due to an issue on Alna’s end, not the accounting firm’s, a William Brewer representative told selectmen Friday. Selectmen predicted the problem will not recur. And they said, if the firm had told them, they wouldn't have been wondering what the holdup was.

Systems that record property tax payments were not in sync, with some paid taxes showing as outstanding, Fred Brewer told the board. "I had to physically go through and check every single tax payment that came in. It was tedious (and) that was the holdup."

Selectmen have voiced frustration waiting for the audit. After hearing what Brewer described, they blamed staff turnover at the town office in the past year.

"A lot of cooks in the kitchen," First Selectman Melissa Spinney said.

"And a lot of new cooks," Third Selectman Doug Baston added. "But now we have a stable team."

Brewer recommended Trio software as easier and more efficient than the town's current means. They said they were already working on getting it.

The discussion came in a planned post-election workshop Baston said they later learned Brewer could attend. He reviewed the preliminary, or draft audit with the board, including new Second Selectman Ed Pentaleri.

The draft showed as of Jan. 31, the end of Alna's fiscal year, the balance owed on the fire truck loan that matures in May 2019 was down another $51,787, to $66,759 and the balance owed on the paving loan that matures in July 2021 was down $55,962, to $159,908.

“So you’re in pretty good shape paying off your notes,” Brewer said.

Spinney wondered why the town gives half, not all, its snowmobile excise tax funds to the Alna Snowmobile Club. With all its work maintaining trails, the club should get it all, about $668 a year, selectmen said. They discussed a possible June 20 board vote, the same night Brewer planned to present the final audit. 

Members thanked Brewer for the draft audit. It looked good, Spinney said. In response to a board question, Brewer said the bill would run about the same as usual, about $7,000, according to selectmen.

Also Friday, Pentaleri offered a list of talking points his first time in the seat. The town website he revamped more than a year ago should be kept up to date on agendas and other items so people will go to it regularly, he said. He’d like the board to explore how the town could accept donations to aid its historic buildings. If they get the repairs they need, possible reuses could be considered, he added. The best thing you can do for an old building is use it, he said. And he would like the town to keep a digital record of permits issued.  

"If the asteroid strikes here or the place burns down, we have something that's still retrievable.” 

The board expressed an interest in Pentaleri’s ideas and planned to research and discuss them further, including one to have the office be closed part of the schedule to help staff get their work done.

It is probably a good idea because the office does get busy, Town Clerk Liz Brown said later.