Waterford’s new select board hit a bump during their regular meeting on Tuesday evening as several town officials were missing and the board’s agenda for their regular meeting had been warned incorrectly.
Consequently, the board decided to hold an informational-only meeting, hearing a number of concerns and proposals from citizens and officials gathered at Waterford School for an hour and a half. A special select board meeting will be held next Tuesday, May 17, at 7 p.m. in order to take action on a number of issues originally slated for this week’s meeting.
Several people expressed concern about the slow-moving, all-new board, including Lisle Houghton, Road Foreman and Warner Hodgdon, former select board member and the town’s cemetery sexton who had been hoping to start work as approved previously by the last select board. However, the board insisted throughout the sometimes-tense meeting that proper procedure needed to be followed, despite delays.
“We can’t do business the way we used to do business,” explained board member Susan Hayes, to scattered applause. “It’s just not right, and we keep getting dinged for having fraud risk problems.”
As a solution to one town issue, Town Treasurer Heather Gonyaw proposed the addition of a new bookkeeper/assistant town treasurer position, to be possibly filled by former Town Treasurer Candidate Marcel Lapierre.
“You don’t want the person who is entering accounts payable and doing payroll and doing the cash receipts and signing the checks to be the same person that is working in the general ledger,” Gonyaw explained. “There needs to be a better division of duties and the Town Clerk is not that person.”
Gonyaw will also be looking for a forced reconciliation for the month of January from the select board at the next meeting, as she notes there is a $534 difference in the town ledger that cannot be unraveled. Once this is done, the delayed team of new auditors should be able to begin their work.
In addition, the board noted that problems with the town website needed to be ironed out as only one person (Vice-Chair Mike Barrett) is currently able to post to the website, causing issues such as the meeting minutes for the special April 19 meeting not being posted within the specified time frame.
At the end of the meeting, resident Debbie Allard raised a citizens’ concern, alleging that — according to public records — former Town Clerk and Treasurer Jessy Pelow utilized 160 hours ($4,480) of paid leave during her one month of work in 2022 prior to her resignation, after utilizing 160 hours of paid leave in 2021. In addition, Allard alleged that former Assistant Town Clerk and Assistant Treasurer Donna Berry used 65 hours of paid leave during January 2022 before her resignation, after utilizing 30 hours of paid leave in 2021.
Allard explained that there was no employee handbook and no policy on vacation, according to previous communication with Pelow herself.
“My concern is if this is misappropriation of funds for the office, and I think it should be looked into,” she said.