Finance board revisits internal financial controls

The Board of Finance has decided to change its internal controls review process plan after receiving feedback from the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education.
Last month, the board received the results of consulting firm Blum Shapiro’s fraud risk assessment, which did not discover any fraudulent activity but did identify several at-risk areas within the town’s internal controls. As a result, the board decided to seek volunteers to serve on a committee designed to help reduce those risks.
“We talked about trying to get a handle on all the feedback and recommendations made by various studies and audits and things that have been done — Parks and Rec, the management letter with the annual audit, the private investigator report with the schools and the fraud risk assessment,” Board of Finance Chair Warren Serenbetz said during the board’s June 16 meeting.
“We had originally talked about doing a committee of volunteers to monitor that, but from the feedback we’ve been getting from the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Education and others, I think that using a team of volunteers is maybe not the best way to approach it.”
Serenbetz suggested the board instead hire a consultant to monitor “all the stuff that’s out there, keep track of what is and what isn’t getting done and if it’s not getting done, try to facilitate what needs to happen to make that get done.”
According to Serenbetz, First Selectman Bill Brennan and Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly have asked the finance board to put together a proposal that specifies the purpose of the internal controls review process.
“They want to have a specific proposal from the Board of Finance to take to their boards,” Serenbetz told fellow board members.
“So, what we need to do is come up with a proposal to take to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education [that says] what exactly this person or firm that we would hire would do.”

First selectman’s input

At the Board of Selectmen’s June 15 meeting, Brennan said he does not believe hiring a consultant — “certainly not one that we would hire” — is necessary.
“We’re already proceeding to make improvements. We’re not waiting for all this — we’re jumping right in,” he said. “All of our audits have always resulted in improvements. That’s why we do them.”
The Board of Selectmen plans to further discuss the matter at its July 6 meeting, when the finance board’s proposal is to be delivered.

Potential candidate

Although the finance board will create the proposal before choosing someone for the job, one possible candidate has already reached out to the board.
Following the board’s May meeting, board member Lynne Vanderslice said, she received an email from someone interested in helping with the internal controls review process.
According to the email, Vanderslice said, the individual currently does consulting, has been the chief financial officer for a couple of companies and was a senior manager at a large public accounting firm.
“[This is] somebody who I actually worked with back in Boston and somebody who has actually done volunteer work for the community, so it’s a known person,” she told the board.
“I don’t want to say who it is until we get a proposal and then we can circulate it, but I think a lot of you will recognize the person.
“The person is willing to discount from their current rates because it is for the town,” she told the board.
Although the finance board has money in its budget to cover the cost of hiring a consultant, Vanderslice said, “it’s hard to say what it’s going to cost” since the board has yet to define what the job would entail.
The Board of Finance’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21.