MESSAGE FROM MONTPELIER
Legislative Report from Rep. Dennis Devereux
for Ludlow, Mount Holly, and Plymouth
Our state has seen a troubling increase in embezzlement cases. Some recent notable ones involved the treasurer of the Town of Ira, an employee of the Hardwick Electric Department, and a state employee working in Newport who even directed taxpayer dollars to her own sister.
Last spring Tom Salmon, the State Auditor of Accounts, approached our Committee on Government Operations with some suggestions that would add more oversight and reporting from those in charge of town funds. His office looked into the issue and found that in many cases the crime was not even being reported. Several drafts and a lot more testimony resulted in a committee bill which requires oversight of those officials with authority to receive or disburse town and school district funds. The proposed bill would require the town treasurer to annually complete and provide the selectboard a copy of a one-page checklist furnished by the auditor of accounts to determine if the internal financial controls are in place to ensure the proper use of public funds. The bill would mandate that any officer charged with larceny or filing a claim for recovery under a bond based upon performance to provide the auditor of accounts a copy of charges or claim within 10 days. It would also require the auditor’s office to provide instruction in the fiduciary duties to those in the governing body responsible for accepting a financial report. Another section requires the town treasurer to file this report quarterly, and provide the selectboard a copy of the internal control checklist. The board must review and accept the document that proves the internal controls are indeed in place. The bonding section is updated to add specific language that applies to any officer or employee with the authority as determined by the selectboard.
I am disappointed this issue is being discussed so late in our session when there is little chance of it being enacted. The bill would now have to be re-created next January. Going forward, the plan is to apply the same over-sight to nonprofit organizations that also receive state funds. As we see more cases, I am sure this will become a higher priority.
In next several weeks, most of the money bills will be acted on. I think there will certainly be support for more paving projects around the state. However, I see some areas that are cause for real concern, including the downturn in projected revenue from the lack of snow.
Please contact me with a message at 1-800-322-5616, or at home 802-259-2460, or firstname.lastname@example.org.