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Selectboard briefs

Selectboard approves Grand List Errors and Omissions Report

BRATTLEBORO—BRATTLEBORO — Acting Assessor Jenepher Burnell presented the Selectboard with the 2017 Grand List Errors and Omissions Report, which represents the list’s final figures, at the Dec. 19 regular Board meeting.

Although these figures reduced the Grand List by $2,241,723, Town Manager Peter B. Elwell pointed out this amount “represents a tiny fraction of our approximately $1.1 billion total value."

Elwell explained that under state statute, the report is called “Errors and Omissions,” but in this case, what it represents almost exclusively is circumstances that have changed since the [2017] Grand List was lodged.”

Some of the changes to the list include figures reflecting resolved appeals, updated documentation, two abatements — one a result from fire damage — and closed businesses. The Selectboard unanimously approved the report.

Town gets good grades on FY17 audits

BRATTLEBORO — The town received high marks on the two yearly financial audit reports.

At the Dec. 19 regular Selectboard meeting, Town Manager Peter B. Elwell gave Board members a summary of the audits and what the auditors found.

“The overall general audit of the town’s financial statements and general operations is clean,” Elwell said, and auditors reported “no findings whatsoever.” He noted the town has had no findings for several years.

Elwell offered “kudos” to Finance Director and Treasurer John O’Connor and his staff. “They do a good job at keeping nice, clean books,” Elwell said.

The 2017 grant funding had a single audit with one finding, but it was due to an oversight, Elwell said.

Typically, when a town receives grant funding, especially from the federal government, it comes as a reimbursement for money already spent.

This past year, though, Elwell said “we did a draw-down of some funds” for properties included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, but the town didn’t spend all of the money within the proscribed three days.

Once the auditor noted this, municipal staff contacted the EPA to immediately pay the balance, Elwell said. They also made sure the remainder of the grant funding, which the EPA awarded the town, would be available when needed.

“Everything was properly accounted for,” he said, and neither the auditors nor any federal or EPA official suggested the town failed to do so.

“We’re in the good graces of the EPA and the federal government,” Elwell said, “but there was a finding.”

Town joins Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition

BRATTLEBORO — At their Dec. 19 regular Selectboard meeting, the Board unanimously voted to join the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition.

With their vote, they authorized Town Manager Peter B. Elwell and his staff to track municipal projects on the coalition’s website, vermontclimatepledge.org.

Selectboard Chair Kate O’Connor noted the Energy Committee and the town manager’s staff recommended the town join the coalition.

In September, the Selectboard voted to sign on to the Paris Climate Accord agreement and the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan to “meet goals for greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy adoption,” Elwell said.

“We rallied around the [coalition] as being the most appropriate for the town to sign on to,” Elwell said. “It best represents the way for the town to fulfill this commitment.”

The coalition includes the public and private sectors, and five Vermont municipalities and “a few dozen” other organizations have signed up, he said.

Elwell said it won’t commit the town to spending money, or require other parties “telling you what action the town has to take. Instead, it provides a public forum to “track performance and aggregate results” of municipal plans, and demonstrate the town’s commitment to environmental concerns.

The Energy Committee coordinator can track private projects on the site, or the individuals can do it themselves, Elwell said.

“We are committing town staff time and resources to track our own projects,” he added. “It’s appropriate and not burdensome.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #440 (Wednesday, January 3, 2018). This story appeared on page A5.

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