Transparency needed in town of Wascott
To the Telegram: Serving as clerk/treasurer for the town of Wascott has been an adventure. Town government work is very interesting and rewarding. My 25-plus years of prior employment has prepared me well for this position. I love the work and th...
To the Telegram:
Serving as clerk/treasurer for the town of Wascott has been an adventure. Town government work is very interesting and rewarding. My 25-plus years of prior employment has prepared me well for this position. I love the work and the people to whom I serve.
Being appointed clerk/treasurer for the town of Wascott on Feb. 23, 2009, I was immediately faced with a major drawback -- the hard drive containing all financial records of the town had been confiscated due to an investigation and not returned until June 2009. All transactions had to be done manually. Being the busiest time of the year, tax reports were due, an upcoming election to be conducted, for which I had to get certified, by law, issue liquor licenses, for which I had to get training, conduct the Board of Review, for which I had to become certified, by law, to name only a very few of the ongoing issues to deal with. No records. No training.
However, I met the challenges with a commitment to work hard for the benefit of the town.
The chair warned the clerk that contact with the auditor was prohibited unless brought before the board first. Yet, the chair made contact at will. My office is under investigation, the clerk is responsible for the financial records, and the clerk is prohibited to speak with the very people who can assist! The chair demanded she receive a thumb drive copy of the QuickBooks program to put on her personal computer. Because of intimidation, a copy was provided, feeling very uneasy doing so, stating confidential personnel records would be compromised and "two sets of records are being created and can be changed at will."
Supervisor Doug Hanson recommended I not provide further copies until he could speak to a QuickBooks expert. While in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, Hanson made contact with an Intuit QuickBooks highest level trainer who stated a QuickBook file cannot be transferred without transferring all confidential personnel information.
Since coming into office, the chair worked to split the office of clerk/treasurer making it appointed, and therefore, would come under the control of the board. At the town's meeting in November 2009, the people soundly rejected the recommendation. The chair has criticized the clerk's work hours stating "hours posted" is not satisfactory. This Clerk works full time and the "hours posted" are hours available for general public business. The agendas and budget are done by the chair. Since I am the clerk of the board and responsible for maintaining the budget, I have asked repeatedly to be part of the process of developing the agenda and budget. I am not included and very little information is provided making it difficult to keep "in the loop." I have done the best I can.
In April 2009, records were removed from the former clerk's and assessor's offices and placed on tables in the basement by the chair and clerk. The clerk stated that the process of filing these records would be done as soon as time was available. Upon returning from a week's vacation in June, I was shocked to discover all the records had been removed, destroyed, filed, etc. by Supervisor Bob Beglinger, Sheryl Beglinger and chair Newsome. I stated I was the legal custodian of the records and had given them no authority to handle the records. I, too, need to know where the missing records are.
Alienation and attacks have been leveled against Hanson by the Chair. Hanson is responsible for Buildings and Grounds and Cemetery operations. Upon entering office in April 2010, the Chair abolished the Cemetery Committee dismissing all previous members. The chair set Hanson "up for failure" providing him with no help. Hanson's efforts to provide "transparency" to the taxpayers by amending Res. 2009-14: Appointment of Town Attorney to read - "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any legal opinion sought by any board member of the Wascott Town Board from Weld, Riley, Prenn & Ricci SC must first be submitted to the Wascott Town Board for approval. Request for such opinion must contain a full and complete justification for such action." The Board soundly rejected the amendment by voting it down. Hanson merely wanted the taxpayers to know what the board is doing -- being transparent. The chair has spent $12,000-plus of taxpayer's money contacting the town's attorney for advice, which could have been obtained free from the Wisconsin Towns Association's very qualified staff.
There are two sides to every story and this has been an effort to bring awareness to what actually is happening. Bring back a sense of community pride to Wascott by voting for Greg Jensen, chairman, Mike Stupak, supervisor, and Jeannette Atkinson, clerk/treasurer.