Rockingham Selectboard reviews board rules and 2020 audit

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Wednesday, April 7, the Rockingham Selectboard discussed board rules with Attorney Steve Ankuda and reviewed the 2020 audit.

Ankuda presented legal advice for new board members on sending emails and discussions with each other and members of the community. He advised them to use a municipal or separate email for transactions. He advised, “Don’t use your personal email for town business without copying [the municipality].”

Ankuda reminded the board they should act as a group. Board meetings must be warned, with agendas set and posted. If three or more board members hold a discussion through emails or committee meetings, that is a majority and should be warned. The public has the right to know and all discussion should be available. Minutes should be sent to

Ankuda reiterated that the town of Rockingham holds a manager form of government and the manager takes care of business for the town. The manager is the conduit to employees, and that the Selectboard takes any complaints, issues, or questions to the manager.

Elijah Zimmer asked about conflict of interest. Ankuda said in the policy one can not have “a direct financial impact to [their] household.” If a member believed themselves to have a conflict of interest, they could recuse themselves from the discussion and vote.

Chair Peter Golec asked about what happens in a situation where “a person involved with an organization comes to the town for money.”

Ankuda replied that they should disclose if they’re a director and if it’s not a personal financial interest, it’s considered public service.

Municipal Manager Scott Pickup introduced the audit manager of RHR Smith & Company, Josh Quinn, and expressed appreciation for the extra effort from Finance Director Shannon Burbela’s office for their time and energy. Quinn presented the 2020 audit review highlighting financial statements and fund balances.

Golec asked for “an overview of the restricted fund balance and what can be done with those funds?” Quinn explained they were set aside by the board and taxpayers. For example, the $50,000 in Town Hall funds was created by the board and voted upon by the taxpayers who determined what it was allowed to be used for.

Golec asked, “If that money never gets spent in the year it’s documented…what happens?”

Quinn said it was special revenue and would be carried over, but at some point the funds became obsolete.

He explained the last page of the audit was the management letter. “We look at internal controls and offer comments on how to strengthen those.” His suggestions were simple house cleaning tips and recommended that all fund balance activity run through revenue and expenses much of the clean up being old past practices. He said his one concern was bank reconciliations, “but given the past year and I think the number of hats Shannon was wearing, I’m not totally surprised.”

Rick Cowan asked about the Act 60 fund. Burbela explained it was for the gravel pit and “We stopped contributing to it as we have enough for the closure.”

Cowan asked about the $100,000 in the general fund balance and if it was used to reduce taxes?

Quinn explained they would use the fund balance for the fiscal year 2021 budget based on fiscal 2019 activity as of June 2019. The $100,000 was voted upon in a warned article in March 2020.

Susan Hammond asked for clarification. “What is the standard practice of how much we should hold in the general fund?”

Quinn said they looked at 30,60, and 90 days of operating expenses: for 30 days $500,000 and $1.5 million was for 90 days. “Basically where you are,” he added.

He finished his presentation by saying that it was a pleasure working with the town of Rockingham.

The Selectboard meets on the first Wednesday and third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House.

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