SHAFTSBURY >> The Shaftsbury Select Board on Monday discussed changing the town's audit policy, and heard an update on potential Cole Hall renovations.
Town Administrator David Kiernan and Treasurer Melanie Dexter recommended to the board that they increase the frequency of audits of the town's finances from every three years to every year. "We'd have to increase the amount we contribute," said Kiernan, "This is a policy decision, and I think it would be wise policy to have an audit done every year. It's the taxpayers money, and there's several million dollars that go through here, and bringing in an outside auditor just makes it that much more transparent." Kiernan said the contract the town has with their auditors, Sullivan Powers and Company of Montpelier, already has options for years two and three built in at a lower price than year one.
"It would be so much cleaner if we did it every year," said Dexter, "There wouldn't be so much guesswork, and it would be more streamlined." When board member Ken Harrington pointed out that an error could take, potentially, years to notice under the current system, and would be more complicated to deal with after that time, Dexter replied, "That's right, the downside is so much bigger than the upside. You save a couple thousand dollars, but you risk so much more than that.
Kiernan said he would re-write the policy to reflect that change, and that the board could approve it at the next meeting.
Kiernan also said he had been working with planning commission chairman Chris Williams to plan much-needed renovations to Cole Hall. He said that they had decided not to go forward with the ideas he had brought up at the previous meeting, for various reasons. "We're going to keep this open," he said, referring to the second floor space where the select board meets, "What we're looking at now is restoring it, within reason." What that would mean, he said, is repairing the tin ceiling and repainting the entire interior. There will also be new curtains, lights, and fans installed. "This is long overdue maintenance," he said.
Kiernan said that he would like to get the interior painted this fiscal year, at least two exterior sides painted next year, and then begin focusing on saving money for a new roof. He said that moving his office upstairs had been considered, but it was decided to leave both full-time employees, Kiernan and Town Clerk Judy Stratton, downstairs, so that the upstairs wouldn't need to be heated all day, every business day during the winter.
The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road in Shaftsbury. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.