BYRON — Letters sent about five years ago from the accounting firm RHR Smith & Co. of Buxton to the town officials of Byron provided detailed advice on how to fix the town’s suffering finances.

It appears most of that advice, if not all, was disregarded by the town’s previous leadership.

In 2013, RHR Smith & Co. conducted overdue audits for 2010, 2011 and 2012. The town then neglected to have its books and other financial records audited from 2014 to 2018.

In March, when Selectmen Linda Joyal and James Ramey were elected, they began the process of getting the town’s audits current, and years 2014 through 2017 are now being audited.

Accountant Ron Smith told town officials and residents during a special town meeting in May that the town’s finances have “gotten much worse” since 2013. Smith said he anticipated completing the town’s current batch of audits by late July or early August.

The letter to the town officials from RHR Smith & Co. in 2013 cited several bookkeeping concerns and management practices, including that no minutes were kept for selectmen’s meetings.

“The selectmen’s activity becomes clouded with poorly recorded and missing minutes,” the letter reads.

In its review of 2010, RHR Smith noted that the town’s tax billing reconcilement was off, with the total amount billed for taxes not matching the town’s tax commitment. In addition, according to the letter, the town’s municipal valuation return did not match the tax commitment — it was off by about $6,000.

“This practice may lead to material misstatement of financial information and insufficient funding for town operations,” wrote the auditors.

In addition, auditors were unable to substantiate employee pay rates, and found payroll records to be missing I-9 tax forms, which are federally required for all employees. The auditors noted their concern that town officials were signing their own paychecks, a practice that was not remedied until Joyal and Ramey were elected.

“We recommend the town review its check-signing policy to ensure all disbursement checks are signed by those that have proper authorization and the treasurer does not sign checks on her own behalf,” read the 2013 letter regarding the 2011 audit.

The town was also missing invoices for items selected for cash reimbursement, and support documentation for recurring monthly payments could not be found.

“We caution the town that all town funds disbursed should be accompanied with an approved invoice prior to payment,” the letter read.

Concerning investments, RHR Smith & Co. found the town had no investment policies, no fund balance policy, no accounting system and its deposits exceeded the $250,000 maximum amount insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

In 2010, Susan Roderick was clerk and tax collector, Allison Freeman was deputy clerk, Rosey Susbury was treasurer and the selectmen were Cory Freeman, Linda Gallant and Anne Simmons-Edmunds.

In 2011, Roderick was clerk, Suzanne Noyes was treasurer, Freeman was deputy clerk and tax collector, and the selectmen were Pat Knapp-Veilleux, Gallant and Simmons-Edmunds.

In 2012, Freeman was clerk, treasurer and appointed in October 2012 to also serve as the tax collector. Before October, Cynthia Kelly filled that position. The selectmen were Knapp-Veilleux, David Noyes and Simmons-Edmunds.

Those who help positions in 2012 also held the positions in 2013, with the exception of Kelly.

[email protected]

(Sun Journal file photo)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.