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Clarksburg Finance Committee OK Accountant Funding
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:04PM / Thursday, February 01, 2024
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Finance Committee member Carla Fosser, Select Board Chair Robert Norcross and Finance Chair Chuck Lewitt listen to Town Administrator Carl McKinney at the FinCom's inaugural meeting on Tuesday.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town's closing in on getting its financial house in order with the first meeting of the newly organized Finance Committee. 
Carla Fosser and Charles "Chuck" Lewitt were appointed earlier in January by Town Moderator Ronald Boucher, filling posts that had been vacant for at least two years. 
"Speaking for the Select Board and town, we thank you for your time," said Select Board Chair Robert Norcross. "You're very important to the town."
Norcross and Town Administrator Carl McKinney attended the meeting on Tuesday night to familiarize the new committee members with town's budgeting process. 
Lewitt said he'd served on the committee way back in the 1970s and had "pretty much forgotten everything." 
Their first order of business was to elect Lewitt as chair and Fosser as vice chair and secretary. 
Their second was to move forward another piece of the town's financial structure by approving a request from the Select Board to transfer $7,500 in reserve funds to the wages line item. These funds can only be moved by the committee. 
This will allow the town to hire a town accountant for at least 20 hours a week, explained McKinney. The town's been operating with two part-time interim accountants for more than two years.
Both are working remote and both have told town officials that the job would require at least 20 hours a week. The Select Board last week voted to hire for the post through June 30 and ask town meeting to authorize the 20 hours for the next fiscal year. 
The town's behind on closing the books on several years of free cash because of employee changes. McKinney said the new treasurer and the accountants are working diligently but also have to keep abreast of the current finances. 
"We're recovering from having no staff to having good staff and we'd like to keep that circle going," said Norcross. 
Lewitt said he was aware of some of the issues with not having an accountant easily available.
"The key component is getting an accountant ... the goal is to have an accountant here in Town Hall," said McKinney, noting "since the pandemic there is a significant shortage of municipal employees and we're competing with other municipalities."  
The job was posted on Wednesday at a wage of $30.50 to $32.85 an hour for a three-day work week; the town is looking for someone with preferably an associates degree in business administration or accounting at minimum and at least a year's experience in municipal accounting. 
Norcross and McKinney also spent some time explaining the town's budget and departmental requests; the process through the Legislature; details on the cherry sheets; other post-employment benefits; school budgeting; capital needs; Chapter 90 road funds, and other aspects. 
Norcross explained how long it can take to apply and receive grants, noting the municipal vulnerability plan is working through several phases of planning, design and action that requires multiple grant applications. 
McKinney said the town is seeking out other revenue sources, including the potential for a solar array on the town's capped landfill. 
Fosser and Lewitt asked how often should the committee meet and should it be with department heads or the Select Board. Norcross said a Select Board member could be available if they have questions and McKinney said it would probably be a joint meeting with the board and school officials when going over the school budget. 
The Finance Committee decided it would meet on Mondays or Tuesdays as needed and McKinney said they could send him the information to develop their agenda. Norcross said he's been actively seeking a third person for the committee and hopes to find one soon.  
"Do not be afraid to speak up. We don't have to have consensus, we like to have it, but we don't have to," he said, recalling a time when the committee and board differed on three town meeting articles. 
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