Budget balanced, voting on financial articles to begin this month

By Cyndi Murray | May 10, 2011

After learning the minimum amount the town is due to receive in local aid from the state, Town Administrator Mark Andrews told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget is balanced.

He said voting on financial warrant articles can begin on May 23 when April Town Meeting reconvenes without being adjusted for the $919,000 discrepancy discovered in the town's books by independent auditors Powers & Sullivan in March.

All financial articles scheduled for April Town Meeting were held while auditors continued to review the books.

On Thursday Powers & Sullivan's James Powers said two-thirds of that money has been accounted for, leaving a remaining $219,000 discrepancy.

Andrews said Tuesday the $219,000 discrepancy falls within the budget for the town's "free cash," unrestricted funds left over from previous years' budgets. The discrepancy will be addressed at October Town Meeting, he said.

Tuesday Andrews said the voting can continue as originally planned now the that the state Senate has confirmed that the town will receive at least $14 million in aid.

Not knowing the amount the town would receive in aid "has been an issue from the start," Andrews said. With the knowledge of that amount, "the budget is locked in."

Andrews said the Senate voted last week to approve the amount of local aid presented in the Ways & Means Committee's budget.

The $14 million presented by the Ways & Means Committee is the least amount that Wareham will receive in aid from the state. The state Senate and House budgets call for more in local aid which could be made available to municipalities after a final vote on the state's budget, according to Andrews.

He said Powers & Sullivan will continue to assist the town in gaining financial stability by helping to implement a fiscal recovery plan for the Town Accountant's office.

Andrews will present the town's budget to the Financial Committee Wednesday night.

Town Meeting will address the town's financial business on May 23 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.

In other town business:

Selectmen voted to accept the request for proposal, or RFP, presented by members of the Westfield RFP Review and Recommendation Committee Tuesday.

Formed in February, the committee was charged with making suggestions to the Selectmen for an RFP for the construction of affordable senior housing on the 77-acre West Wareham property. It had an RFP from 2009 to work from.

The proposal to construct the housing on the Westfield property was overwhelmingly approved by Town Meeting in October.

Westfield Committee Chairman Bill Heaney said the document was updated to include all recommendations offered by the Selectmen at a previous joint meeting between the groups.

Town Administrator Mark Andrews will now review the proposal with Town Counsel and then put the project out to bid.

Comments (8)
Posted by: old lady | May 11, 2011 07:01

I hope Mr Andrews has more than words when he addresses the Finance Committee. We need the numbers. I as a taxpayer want to see all the figures before Town Meeting.

Tax payers have a right to a detailed account of how our taxes are being and will be used. If we vote to give a dept. money we need to know Mr Andrews will not take that money and use it elsewhere. We need to see what he has spent our tax dollars on. I don't want this mess swept under the rug with the excuse we are working on it.

 

Why hasn't Mr Andrews advertised for a new accountant?



Posted by: amples | May 11, 2011 08:39

probably because the town accountant has never been legally fired!!



Posted by: P-SPAN | May 11, 2011 09:20

I think we should offer James Powers the TA job (but he seems too smart to accept). How come every position needs someone "extra" to be hired to hold their hands to do their jobs? Myles Burke needs someone to do the job he was hired (by his friend Andrews) to do..and overpaid to do it, "Biz" got help too (but that didn't help). The healthcare trust fund needed an audit done (paid for) by the School Committee (that ended up being incorrect in it's conclusions), and then another expensive "forensic" audit to figure out what was going on, and now (because Biz, her helper..and Andrews) failed to do their jobs the taxpayer's have to pay Powers & Sullivan to figure out this mess. How much is the final tally on this one? In every instance it's the taxpayer's who get stuck with the bill. Even with good management the last few years would have been rough, due to an historically bad economy..with the horrible leadership Wareham's had, it's compounded the problems significantly. The day to day meddling of the inept previous BoS (and a spineless interim TA Sanguinet), decimated the town's work force with their vendettas, abused their "power", and eliminated anyone who didn't "kiss their rings". Qualified employees were either fired or found the work environment so hostile they quit prematurely. The BoS systematically worked their addition by subtraction "strategy" until the town has been brought to the brink of state receivership. What they gave us is subtraction by subtraction. The result? We have less, but pay more. It's criminal, in my opinion.



Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 11, 2011 11:24

I still think that town meeting should not continue until the entire 919,000 is accounted for.  They obviously cannot be trusted to oversee our tax dollars, so we should not approve of any spending or tax increase measures that they request.



Posted by: interestedparty | May 11, 2011 15:53

Personally I am impressed with the job TA Andrews is doing.  In spite outside pressure, threats, criticism, hostility, and cynicism, Mr. Andrews has maintained a sense of calm and is getting the job done for Wareham.

 

I congratulate him on working with the School District to balance the budget.   Last night he reported that there will be no personnel cuts.  Good  news, right?   Remember it was Mr. Andrews who hired the firm of Powers & Sullivan to straighten out the accounting of the Health Care Trust Fund.  Powers & Sullivan has already found 2/3rds of the "missing" $919,000.  It has taken that firm two months of concentrated effort to find those accounting errors.  To all of those who have criticized Ms. Zaleski and Mr. Andrews for not being able to straighten out the Town's books after years of accounting errors by prior administrations, you need to take a break, and let the work continue.

 

Mr. Depetro, as much as I am tempted to responding to your claims, I refuse to do so because your statements are nothing more than insults and accusations.  I think Wareham Week readers deserve better than that.

 

Mr. Andrews is a man with a calm demeanor in the face of severe storms that have been hitting Wareham.  He is not reactionary, possibly because he does not read the blogs and so does not get caught up in the pettiness of the writings.  (And, yes, as of late I too have gotten caught up in reacting instead of acting.)  Mr. Andrews is methodic in his work, and more than that, he is focused.



Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 11, 2011 16:25

IP, just a quick question, out of curiousity, are you related to any of Wareham's town officials?

No need to go into great detail in your answer, just a yes or a no will do fine.



Posted by: interestedparty | May 11, 2011 17:39

Thinker, your query has nothing to do with the article nor to my post.  The budget is balanced.  Town Meeting can continue as planned.  The school district got the money it needed.  Powers & Sullivan is continuing their forensic accounting of the $919,000 of which 2/3rds has been sorted out.  The Town is not on the brink of receivership.  In fact, the Town has free cash.  I suggest we, for a moment, relish this good news and stop fighting and playing games.



Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 11, 2011 20:08

Thanks IP, that non-answer gave me all the answer I needed.



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