Local/State News in Brief: Pownal board to respond to auditor's labor law claim

Saturday December 29, 2012

Pownal board to respond to auditor's labor law claim

POWNAL -- The Select Board chairman plans to explain to the public what the board has learned about a labor law issue raised by a town auditor.

Chairman Stephen Kauppi said the board met with attorney Timothy Copland of Brattleboro behind closed doors last week and invited auditors Clint Hutchins and Ray Shields to attend. According to Kauppi, Shields has brought a number of issues up regarding town finances. One of those issues involved the laws surrounding when salaried employees qualify for overtime pay.

Kauppi said he does not yet feel comfortable speaking in detail about what the board learned during the executive session but said he intends to explain it to the public at the board's next regular meeting Thursday.

In the fall, Shields informed the board that after examining payroll records dating back to 2009 he found a "thread" that amounted to roughly $20,000 in over expenditures. According to Kauppi, that issue and the labor law matter are separate and the meeting with Copland was to only discuss the law.

Kauppi said it appears some mistakes were made regarding salaried employees and overtime, but those mistakes did not equate to a violation of any law.

Tensions have been high between Shields and the board. Shields was elected as auditor this year for a three-year term and has said the board has been unfairly scrutinizing his auditing activities. The board, mainly through Kauppi, has said that Shields has not followed proper procedures as an auditor and has been acting largely on his own without consulting other auditors before making claims and meeting with state officials.

Attempts to reach Shields Friday were not successful.

At a meeting on Dec. 13, tensions rose again when Shields questioned the board on why it was meeting with Copland and why it had invited him to attend. Shields said he would not meet in a closed session but would speak to Copland individually. Kauppi took issue with this, as did some other board members, with board member Ronald Bisson saying the personal conflict between Kauppi and Shields was out of line.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Woman accused of trying to cut Rutland officer's throat

RUTLAND (AP) -- A woman is facing a charge of attempted murder after Rutland police say she tried to cut an officer's throat with a knife.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jennifer Berube and her boyfriend, John MacLean III, were arrested Thursday for allegedly trying to use a stolen credit card at some Rutland businesses.

Police say the two were being booked Thursday night when Berube obtained a knife and tried to cut the throat of an officer.


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