|Clarksburg Board Raps Town Administrator Over Treasurer's Office Fiasco|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff |
01:32PM / Wednesday, August 25, 2021
|The Select Board meets at the Community Center on Wednesday morning.|
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Frustrations over the quagmire in the treasurer's office boiled over on Wednesday when Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher took the town administrator to task and she walked out of the meeting.
"You're the town administrator, we put you there to manage day-to-day operations, and it's not being done," he said angrily, rapping the table for emphasis. "When I get continuous phone calls ... you know, consider this a verbal warning from this board, by the way. Either you're going to step up or step out because I've had it."
Town Administrator Rebecca Stone, who was trying to refute findings by a consultant hired to straighten out the office, got up and walked out, saying, "I'm going home sick."
"Good," responded Boucher.
But Terry Green of Hilltown told the board on Wednesday that the problems date back nearly nine months and encompass far more than closeouts.
"I'm certainly not trying to discredit anybody or get anyone in trouble. But these are the things that you guys pay me find," she said.
Green, town treasurer in Rowe, said she found no organization, mail from March that had not been opened, redemptions not done, filings not completed, retirements not processed and things not being done in a timely manner.
The town was paying medical insurance for people who no longer worked there, and some employees were getting no deductions, the wrong deductions or double the deductions. Some payroll records were sent with employees' doctors' names on them.
Plus, people who were not employees of Town Hall were working on town matters.
"I found emails where their spouses are doing spreadsheets to help them out," Green said. "I know employee benefits are public knowledge but they're not the spouse's job."
Amy Cariddi, the administrative assistant, had been moved into the post on Aug. 11 and was not yet bonded — but checks had been made out with her signature.
"She was told to do it. Her answer should have been 'no, I'm not bonded yet,'" Green said. "But when somebody is telling her she has to do it, she doesn't know. ... She's got one person telling her one thing and one person telling her another."
Green said Cariddi was working hard to put out fires but that "there's no process no procedures ... when I ask a question and I can't get answers."
"This is affecting the school, this is affecting all the communities around the valley (in the Northern Berkshire School Union), everything," she said. "It's sad that there's more finger pointing and whispering ... it's shameful."
Stone said Cariddi had held up the bonding process by delaying getting documents to her for the application, and that she had left it to her whether to have her signature on the checks. She also said she regularly asks if there is anything they need or that she can do but that there are areas by law she can't do.
Boucher, however, was having none of it.
"I think as a good leader, you step up to the plate. ... I don't need anybody to ask me to do anything, I take it upon myself," he said, adding he gets phone call after phone call every day.
"You can't expect people to have success, he added, "when you work against them."
Boucher had asked Green to speak honestly at the recorded meeting about the problems she'd found. "I think I get a lot of bullshit," he said.
Green said there was a general lack of knowledge of municipal law and procedure with the new employees. For instance, they were told that updating the board by email was a violation of Open Meeting Law.
"It starts from above and rolls down. And there needs to be in the above part, you need someone that is going to be a part of the day-to-day stuff, and reporting to you all the time and saying, 'Hey, this is what's going on,'" she said, adding, "I believe that the town administrator should be knowing more what's going on."
She also recommended that the town accountant, who works remotely, be in the office at least once a week to work with the treasurer. The town needed to dig out of this mess, she said, or the state Department of Revenue would get involved.
"I'm trying to do the job, I'm trying to let them know that these things were done wrong. And it's huge, because it will cost a ton of money, because now I have to go back, you know, from the beginning of the year, and we have all of these employees," Green said. "It's frustrating when you have somebody who is supposed to be leading your team, and reporting back to you. You guys are here to, you know, run the town, but the person that you put in charge of the offices should be the one who's in the day-to-day operations. I shouldn't have to call Ron and say, 'How do I handle this?' Because I really, I don't like what I'm finding."
Boucher apologized for losing his temper.
"It's very, very frustrating when you have someone that you trust to do the day-to-day operations to run this town and it's not being done. It's always finger pointing, excuses why it didn't get done. It's very frustrating to me and this board," he said, and turning to Administrative Assistant Darcy Feder, who had come on as the treasurer, "I also feel for you because when you started, all she did was push back at you and didn't give you the support you needed."
There reportedly had been complaints about the working environment at Town Hall for some time. The board had scheduled an executive session on a personnel issue a few weeks ago but canceled it that day. Both Boucher and Select Board member Danielle Luchi said Wednesday the meeting should have been held.
Stone, of Halifax, Vt., was hired in September 2019
. The board has not held a review or performance evaluation during these two years.
"It's just a lot of frustration," said Boucher. "And in deep in my heart, I know we're going in the right direction. We're going in the right direction. It's going to take some time. But we need to have a team, people, the team working together. Everybody's pitching in and helping out."