#1 2010-10-26 12:21:17

Last night, Liz McDonald stood up with a valid question. Why are we paying bills in the Fall town meeting, when we "appear" to have paid them at the April town meeting. The answer she was given was less than satisfactory--we have to pay bills that have not been paid.  Duh. Her question was why are they the SAME???  I didn't hear an answer to that one.

Here is article 28 of April town meeting:
ARTICLE 28

To see if the Town will vote to appropriate and transfer from available funds a sum of money to pay unpaid bills of prior fiscal years as follows:
From Town Administrator’s Office – Hancock Associates - $1,200.00; IKON Office Solutions - $99.84
From Wareham Free Library - Random House, Inc. - $64.00
From Veterans Services Dept. - Southcoast Physician Services - $297.88;
or to do or act in any manner relative thereto.

Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Town Administrator

The Board of Selectmen Voted:    Favorable Action 5-0-0
The Finance Committee Voted:    Favorable Action 7-0-0

Explanation:

Several bills remain unpaid from prior fiscal years.  This article requests authority to pay those bills as indicated in the article.  The total of the four outstanding bills is one thousand six hundred sixty-one dollars and seventy-two cents ($1,661.72)

NOW: Here is Article 4 from the Fall town meeting.

ARTICLE 4 – TO AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF PRIOR YEARS BILLS

To see if the Town will vote to appropriate and transfer from available funds a sum of money to pay unpaid bills of prior fiscal years as follows:
from Town Administrator’s Office – UMass Dartmouth -         $150.74
from the Town Administrators Office IKON Office Solutions -         $  99.84
from Wareham Free Library - Random House, Inc. -             $  64.00
from Veterans Services Dept. - Southcoast Physician Services -     $297.88
or to do or act in any manner relative thereto.

Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Town Administrator

Explanation:

This article is a housekeeping article that allows the Town to pay bills from prior years to various vendors.  These bills are for charges which were incurred in the previous year, but not paid before the books were closed for that year.  The money to pay these bills will come from Free Cash.

ME AGAIN---Here is where I can use some help. In April, when we paid these bills, they had been left UNPAID since the close of the PREVIOUS year's books correct? The fiscal year ENDS June 30, 2010 right? April is before June so those bills had to be left over from the year ending June 30, 2009, right?

Now, in fall, three of those bills are in an article for the exact amount. Well, I guess that could happen although it is quite odd. What a coincidence that only those three bills and one other was left unpaid again. These bills, apparently were left UNPAID from the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010, right?

Note that there is a library bill on there. FIRST, Bizzie came to the trustees two weeks after the close of the June 30 fiscal year with over $14,000 in unpaid book bills. (You get a two week leeway to pay those bills.) The trustees paid them. THEN, a few weeks later (after the MOU was signed) the Friends were asked to pay another $2500 in unpaid book bills that did not make it into the big pile the trustees paid for. But this was AFTER the two week grace period.  So, why yet another $64 Random House bill??? Why wasn't it included in either the bills the trustees paid or the bills the Friends paid?

Last week I asked the library director about it. She had no idea what it was. She said that to her recollection, the $64 bill that we voted on in April was paid. She was not aware that another one was not paid.

Liz was basically brushed off, yet it does seem odd. It isn't a lot of money, but I still am not sure why three of the bills are EXACTLY the same. Recurring monthly bills I could see that perhaps, maybe, oddly, of all the bills the town gets, those same bills did not get paid on two occasions.

Anybody help me on this? Since Liz (and the body) didn't get a clear answer, I'm wondering if anyone can clarify this for me.
Thanks.

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#2 2010-10-26 13:32:20

Ok, Nora, I will take a stab at it.

Remember that an appropriation at the TM is NOT a payment. Someone would have to take the step and actually make the payment, once authorized by the TM.

So. One possibility is that the bills slipped past June 30 (or July 15). In that case, the funds appropriated for payments in Fiscal Year 2010, but not made by the cited dates, would have to be returned to the general fund. Unless, there was a request by the department which was billed to hold the funds into the new fiscal year. This request would go to the accountant as a request to "encumber" funds.

One must assume that none of this happened. therefore, it is necessary to return to TM for authorization to pay the bills in a different fiscal year.

Cumbersome? you bet. But that is precisely the intent of these procedures. You don't want to be dealing with bills showing up in October (or later) for work done in FY2010. Most vendors and department heads are aware of this, and act accordingly.

Hope this helps.....

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#3 2010-10-26 13:42:58

Thanks nota.  When you say "slipped past" I'm assuming you mean it is possible that someone screwed up and didn't pay the bills first time around.  If that was so, then when Liz asked her question the answer would have been oops, someone forgot to pay those bills after April town meeting, and since those books are now closed, we have to ask you all again.  Now that we have an accountant and a half, perhaps things will be done differently? Of course, this is all assumption.

P.S. I know you would be able to explain it. Thanks.

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#4 2010-10-26 16:27:15

Good for you, Nora...and the rest of you. Pay attention and a lot of things will appear.

Now is the time to question all expenditures that have been slipped under the rug. Vigilance is what exposes the truth.

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