Auditor tells Buckfield officials bills include auditing and bookkeeping services

BUCKFIELD — Claiming his firm had to correct more than $3 million in errors in the city’s 2020 financial statements, auditor Ron Beaulieu defended invoices sent to the city covering auditing and accounting services during of the meeting of elected officials on Tuesday evening.

Auditor Ron Beaulieu attends a Tuesday meeting of the Buckfield Board of Selectmen. Screenshot from the video

The city received two invoices in December 2021 totaling $12,242.50, which Beaulieu says are over 70 days past due. The city had previously paid three bills totaling $7,942.50.

The discussion with the listener lasted more than an hour.

Coach Janet Iveson said former acting city manager Bradley Plante believed the bills had been paid in full, which is why city officials were stunned to receive two more bills several months later. early December.

Plante was hired in May 2021 and resigned in September of the same year.

Beaulieu explained how his company was first approached by former City Manager Joe Roach shortly before Roach resigned in August 2020. At the time then-City Manager John Andrews signed a letter of appointment, all the staff in the office had left.

Andrews was hired in November 2020 and resigned in May 2021, leading to Plante’s appointment.

“When we started auditing your financial statements, the first thing we needed was your financial statements,” Beaulieu said. “But then you had a different City Manager, Mr Roach, you had a different Treasurer, Ms (Cindy) Dunn, and you had a different Deputy Clerk, Ms Candy Brooks. There were no financial statements to give us.

Without financial statements, Beaulieu said he could not perform an audit. He offered to provide accounting services to the city as well. These services included preparing financial statements, performing reconciliations, and making corrections and adjustments to those statements.

He said he told Andrews the audit would only cost $4,900. The balance, $15,285, covers the work of his firm providing accounting services separate from the audit.

“We don’t need to do these services during a typical audit,” Beaulieu said. “It is done by the municipality. But the city manager, John, and the board agreed to hire us to do it and signed this engagement letter.

“The city was in dire straits,” Beaulieu added. “Turnover in all departments and a council that is not the current council. We have done everything we can to try to help the town of Buckfield through some very stressful times.

The current board also includes Cheryl Coffman, Robert Hand, Cameron Hinkley and Michael Iveson.

City manager Lorna Nichols, who has held the position since October 4, 2021, and coach Michael Iveson pressed Beaulieu over the accounting services fee listed in the December bill for “non-audit services”. Officials were particularly concerned about several “other” billing line headings that were later described as phone and email charges.

“Keep in mind that the other services we charged were only 3.75 hours,” Beaulieu said. “That’s miniscule compared to the services we gave you to create financial statements and make adjustments that totaled over $3 million in errors on those financial statements that needed to be corrected.”

Michael Iveson asked if the auditor could provide a similar breakdown of the fees for the $4,967.50 non-audit bill the city had already paid to ensure the city was not double billed for the services, but Beaulieu said that was impossible because his computer system purges old invoices once they are paid.

“It’s impossible for my computer system to charge for things I’ve already charged for,” Beaulieu said.

The board has not made any decision on the payment of the outstanding balance.

In other business, with two of the city’s five trucks out of service, the council agreed to spend up to $72,500 on a 2014 Freightliner snowplow truck. That price includes a $12,000 trade-in for the truck. 2007 of the city as is, which needs repairs, said Nichols. The money will come from the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Council also agreed to expedite the upgrade of the municipal office’s computer system to Trio software. City voters approved spending $20,000 over each of the next three years on the software, but buying it now would save the city from paying maintenance fees for the outgoing system for two more years. The city will use $20,000 from the current budget and take $40,000 from American Rescue Plan Act money.

The board approved the appointments of Paula Sullivan and William Sullivan to the planning board.


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Kristan F. Talley