AYER -- In unanimous decisions, the Finance Committee approved or opposed several reserve fund transfers requested to cover unbudgeted spending during fiscal 2013, which closed June 30.
Among the emergency or unforeseen items were office furniture and the costs of town meetings and the special election.
Town Clerk/Collector John Canney requested $1,124 to cover a town meeting on June 24 plus the costs of the senatorial special election on June 25. The requested funds not only covered the events, but also paid the workers covering them, Canney said.
The committee unanimously voted in favor of the transfer.
The fiscal 2012 tax title recording of the Middlesex District Registrar of Deeds budget came in at $2,250. FinCom member Brian Muldoon thought the sum seemed high, but the committee also had to spend $1,900 in advertising for a new tax collector position that year, so the committee approved the amount.
A transfer request for $1,497.60 to fund the fiscal 2014 property tax bills for quarters one and two turned a few heads. With what seemed to be $797.81 left in the budget, Chairman Scott Houde questioned the need for the request if funds remain in the budget.
"I'll be honest, I don't feel like I have a lot of information to go by with these reserve fund transfers," Houde said.
Canney was unable to explain the $797.81 and said he would check into it the following day. The committee decided on a compromise that if Canney is able to report that the money has been spent, the full $1,497.
The following day, Canney discovered that the $797.81 is for invoices pending per the town accountant. So the Finance Committee did sign off on the total reserve fund transfer request of $1,497.60
Reserve fund transfer requests for pieces of office furniture seemed to leave members of the committee uneasy.
Among the items were $41.50 for a broken key replacement, $328.95 for a new chair and stool, and $1,200 for a new filing cabinet.
Canney explained each purchase. The broken key itself cost $1.50 while delivery accounted for $40. "I do not have any authority over (where we get keys from)," Canney said. Town Hall works with a key company in Fitchburg and it is town policy that the key be delivered, he said.
"This is just ludicrous. It seems like there would be money in the account for this." Houde said.
"I have all of the bills to the best of my knowledge," Canney responded.
The committee approved the transfer for the key replacement, but wasn't as willing to do so with the office furniture.
"Did you talk to the building department about getting the chairs since they are the ones responsible?" Houde asked.
Canney said he was not aware of any policy by which he would get office furniture through the maintenance department.
Houde insisted that has always been the policy.
"I was not aware that," Canney said.
"Honestly, it's not an excuse. Personally, I will not vote to approve that," Houde said, as the rest of the committee agreed and denied the request for the office chair and stool.
The $1,200 filing cabinet was also denied because many of the files in Canney's office can be computerized, said Houde.
Canney said the number of files surpass the amount he is able to computerize. More file space is needed.
Houde said that more files should have been computerized since Canney came to FinCom eight months ago looking for more space. But Canney has failed to do so, he said.
Canney said he has made an effort, but it wasn't enough. He said he would return the file cabinet since it is new enough to return.
"I buy things for my office that will make my office work better, and I did not know that there were policies on how to purchase office furniture," Canney said.
"You are an elected official," Houde said, "and because you sit between these four walls, you must follow the appropriate procedures."
The fiscal 2013 reserve fund line item ended with a final balance of $41,444.62.
With Muldoon reappointed to both the Capital and Personnel committees, Kilcommins remains on the Executive Board and School Building Committee.
Houde is newly appointed as the Rates and Fees Committee chairman, and Kilcommins is newly appointed to head the TIF Review for fiscal 2014.
Committee members talked of allocating about $150 to turning their town surveys into digital form by using an online survey generator. The effort should begin in August.
The meeting ended with Houde introducing FinCom's fiscal 2014 calendar of events. Among issues to be addressed are revising the 5-year budget model and preparing for the fiscal 2015 budget process.
The committee next meets July 24 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.