Wilton officials are dealing with a ‘mess’

WILTON – Town officials will form a committee to find a new town administrator as quickly as possible. In the meantime, they are coping with what Selectboard Member Kermit Williams termed “a mess.”

About 30 residents with a variety of concerns attended the three-hour regular meeting of the board on Monday.

Williams and Board Chair Kellie-Sue Boissonnault described what they have been coping with since the sudden departure of Town Administrator Scott Butcher, Administrative Assistant Pam Atwood, and Bookkeeper Caitlyn Martin on March 26. Williams said financial statements have “not been reconciled in a couple of months,” bills were not paid, papers and documents were not filed, and requested tasks were not done.

Other problems arose in the course of the evening. New Public Works Director Jim Lavacchia said he did not know the raises approved at town meeting for his crew and requested time cards.

Much of the discussion was in response to questions asked by resident and state representative Carol Roberts.” Do you have access to the books?” she asked.

Boissonnault said the town had hired Linda Jennings of Amherst Bookkeeping. They have gained access to Martin’s computer and Jennings is working with new Town Treasurer Bill Chalmers “to get things in order.” Bills are being paid.

“We’re making sure we can access everything,” Boissonnault said, and the board is dividing the administrations responsibilities among themselves.

The board is working with management consultants MRI, Williams said. “They are giving us suggestions with the recruiting of a new town administrator.” He added, “There is a lot of work to do to get organized, a lot of filing to do, a lot of things that weren’t done.”

Resident Deb Mortvedt asked about “getting on the agenda” and said board minutes have not been available since March 12. “Citizens need to see them once they are approved.”

Boissonnault said she was aware they were behind. “We are trying to decipher what those last minutes were.” Several weeks’ minutes were to be approved later in the evening.

Williams said, with Butcher gone, he did not see a reason to have a Wednesday deadline for getting onto Monday’s agenda. “No one has to research topics,” Butcher’s reason for the early deadline. It was agreed topics could be submitted “up until the agenda is printed on Friday,” although Boissonnault preferred Thursday.

Board Member Matt Fish said, “Citizens’ have a right to discuss anything,” and the others agreed that “anything controversial” could be continued to the next meeting.

Fish raised another point. This was a good time, he said, “to revisit the reconstruction of the town hall” and why there is no storage.

Williams had noted at a previous meeting that there was “about 500 square feet less storage than before,” even though additional storage was one of the selling points when the plan was approved at the 2016 town meeting. “We got three offices and no storage.”

Town Clerk Jane Farrell has requested shelving be installed in a closet and other spaces.

Williams said, “Whether or not (the renovations) were constructed to the original plan, it makes sense” to redo the former selectmen’s office.

Butcher had been given sole oversight of the reconstruction project and the ability to change plans, which he did, to one more of his own liking.

A resident suggested a review of the town meeting minutes. “We were told a lot of things and some of that never materialized,” for instance grant writing.

Boissonnault called it “a learning experience,” and said the town administrator’s job description is being rewritten by the board.

Fish said, “It’s also a good time to look at our policies. There are a lot we don’t have. We need transition documents” for all departments. “We need to document procedures.”

The board agreed the whole episode “was an unfortunate thing, but we have to move forward.”

The search committee information will be available on the town website and posted in several places. Members will include two selectboard members, department heads, representatives of boards and committees, and three citizens.