PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Friedman, Councilor Perkins, Councilor King, Councilor Parker, Manager W. Reed, Deputy Clerk K. Humphrey, Office Administrator J. Reed, Public Works Director B. Stoyell, Barney Silver, Steven Thebarge of MDOT, Member of the Public.
ITEM 1. The October 18, 2010 Veazie Town Council meeting was called to order at 6:30PM.
ITEM 2. Snow Removal Contract
Manager Reed outlined that the Indemnification Clause had to be reworded in the contract. The Fuel Adjustment Clause was revised so that if 500 gallons are exceeded in a season the contractor will have to document it.
Chairman Hathaway outlined that if residents call with an issue that it should be logged in writing and should go to Manager Reed so that it may be addressed by the contractor.
Councilor Perkins inquired whether any sand would be used. Manager Reed outlined that the Town uses straight salt. Sand would only be used in an ice emergency. It was also noted that as far as stormwater guidelines go, it is better if the Town does not use sand.
Councilor King outlined that he felt it was more effective to use sand on ice when it is raining, the salt just gets rinsed away. Barney Silver stated that there will be times that salt/sand is a better option then just salt.
Steven Thebarge of MDOT outlined that he has been talking with Manager Reed about the contractor who does the plowing for Veazie to also take over doing Route 2 from the State. He added that they have looked over the contract between the contractor and the Town and the State finds it acceptable. The State would reimburse the Town for doing so.
Mr. Thebarge inquired whether the contractor would pretreat the roads at all with like a salt/brine. Barney Silver outlined that his business is not set up to a salt/brine mixture but they may put a layer of salt at intersections or in parking lots.
Chairman Hathaway inquired how the reimbursement money would flow to the Town from the State. Mr. Thebarge outlined that he would speak with MDOT and see, but it would probably be a one time payment perhaps at midseason.
Councilor Perkins inquired to Manager Reed what the Town’s plans for coverage would be for winter time in Public Works. Manager Reed stated that there will be the Superintendent and one other full-time employee.
Motion By: Councilor Friedman—to authorize the Town Manager to enter into a contract with Lou Silver, Inc. for three years for the plowing, salting and sanding of Town roads. Seconded: Councilor King, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Audit Firm Interviews
Doug Hollingsworth from Hollingsworth & Associates was present to meet with the Council. Mr. Hollingsworth outlined that next to RHR Smith they are the largest auditor of municipalities in the State of Maine. Since submitting their proposal back in May they have had three changes. Two members have become principals of the firm; they have had an increase in business by adding Bradley, Corinth, Howland, Hartland, Clinton and Baileyville; and lastly, because of the increase in business, they have added another accountant to the firm who happens to be a resident of Veazie.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the firm’s knowledge of different accounting systems. Mr. Hollingsworth outlined that TRIO has become a better system than it was five years ago. Eighty percent of what the firm sees is TRIO. He added that the firm hasn’t seen much of ADS Profund lately, it is more of a school system software.
Councilor Friedman inquired on notification if the firm was examining the books and saw something like we have seen in the newspaper lately. Mr. Hollingsworth stated that if the problem was with the treasurer or town manager they would go to the Council. If it was a counter person they would go directly to the town manager. He added that auditors will find about 10% of fraud. Tips from people that work in the office account for about 60%.
Chairman Hathaway inquired about preliminary work. Mr. Hollingsworth outlined that any town with a population over 2000 or a town that has something special, like a lot of activity, they will typically do preliminary work in June or the first two weeks of July.
Mr. Hollingsworth inquired on when the Town was normally ready for auditors and when does the Town need the audit report back by. Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed outlined that he is ready after the 16th of July. Mr. Hollingsworth stated that they could have the audit back by the middle of August if everything went smoothly, if not by mid September.
Chairman Hathaway inquired if the price in the proposal still remained the same. Mr. Hollingsworth stated it was the same.
RHR Smith & Company
Ron Smith and Charemon Davis were present to meet with the Council. Mr. Smith outlined that they have a staff of sixteen now of which thirteen are professional auditors. Twelve of those are exclusively government auditors. The firm provides audits for about a third of all municipalities in the State of Maine and about sixty school systems.
Mrs. Davis outlined that they are the only firm to offer seminars to their clients. She added that they meet and exceed quality control standards in their profession.
Chairman Hathaway inquired whether they felt they had access to all employees being the Town’s current auditor. Mrs. Davis stated that they have always had access to everything they have asked for and have met with different people in various departments.
Councilor Perkins inquired if Mrs. Davis was given a certain area of towns to audit. Mrs. Davis stated that she has clients in an hour radius of Veazie, however she also has clients in downeast Maine.
Chairman Hathaway outlined that the various stories in the news lately regarding municipalities if the firm had a protocol where employees are asked questions within the organization. Mrs. Davis stated that they do have procedures, they sit down and talk to the employees and ask various questions.
There was discussion on protocol and how something suspicious gets addressed. Mr. Smith outlined that the first level is the manager. Statutorily it is up to the manager to come to the Council with any issues.
Councilor Perkins inquired on how the incident at Newburgh was discovered. Mr. Smith outlined that a call from Taxpayers Coalition was received. He reiterated Mr. Hollingsworth statement that 60% of these instances are discovered by tips.
Manager Reed inquired whether the firm still thought ADS Profund was a good software to use. Mrs. Davis outlined that the software works well for staff. She added that staff in the firm learn the software themselves. Mr. Smith added that ADS is the number one software in the United States.
Chairman Hathaway inquired about the level of contact and communication throughout the year. Mrs. Davis outlined that they do not charge for phone calls and they try to keep in touch throughout the year.
Chairman Hathaway inquired whether their price was the same as their proposal submitted. Mr. Smith stated it was.
Branter, Thibodeau & Associates
Craig Costello was present to meet with the Council. Mr. Costello outlined that the firm was founded in 1980 as a tax practice but took on governmental auditing. It currently serves seventy municipalities at this moment. There is a staff of thirteen, eight are full-time on municipal auditing. Their office is located on Mt. Hope so they are close by and maintain constant contact through out the term of the audit.
Councilor Friedman inquired whether the firm charges for telephone calls. Mr. Costello stated they did not.
Mr. Costello outlined that due to the Town not having a lot of adjustments and a clean audit their price has gone down. The price is now $5,500 a year for three years.
Chairman Hathaway inquired about preliminary work. Mr. Costello stated that they send out a list of items they will need to gather before they can start the audit. Chairman Hathaway also inquired on when the Council could have a finished audit report back. Mr. Costello stated that they could have one back at the end of August or beginning of September if everything went smoothly.
Chairman Hathaway asked Mr. Costello to talk about how the firm identifies suspicion of fraud and how they deal with it. Mr. Costello stated that a firm can never guarantee that it will catch fraud. Ultimately it’s the Council’s responsibility to make sure there is a system in place. The first line of defense is internal controls. He outlined that you could have all your checks and balances in place and something may still get through.
Chairman Hathaway inquired whether the firm had experience with TIFs. Mr. Costello outlined that they have several clients involved with TIFs.
There was discussion on prices. It was decided to send a letter to each firm and ask them to acknowledge and confirm their price.
ITEM 4. Warrants: Town Warrant 8 and Payroll 8 were circulated for signature.
ITEM 5. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor King—to adjourn the October 18, 2010 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Friedman —there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 8:41 pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie