MILLBURY, Mass. — A firm hired by Millbury Town Manager Bob Spain to study the operations of the Council on Aging has found questionable use of pre-signed vouchers, payments to town employees that were not reported as wages and insufficient documentation on spending.
The Council on Aging has been under increased scrutiny since the suspension by the town manager of Executive Director Judith O'Connor for improper political activity prior to the local elections in April. The firm of Roselli, Clark and Associates was directed to examine the business operations of the group, which runs the Millbury Senior Center, to determine if it has been run in accordance with state financial regulations.
The report also examined the co-mingling between the Council on Aging and the Friends of Millbury Seniors, Inc., an independent, not-for-profit organization that has members who also serve on the council. O'Connor is an authorized signer on the group's checking account, and funds were not disbursed without her consent, the report stated. It noted the group has not filed financial reports with the town and recommended the town consider a ruling from the State Ethics Commission on the relationship of the two groups.
O'Connor declined comment on the report, which she said she had not seen. Spain was unavailable for comment.
In reviewing 205 out of a possible 230 financial transactions with outside vendors, some issues found were:
- Seven instances (one in 2011, six in 2012) in which vouchers were submitted to the town for payment without the requisite number of COA signatures required by law;
- There were 12 pre-signed "blank" vouchers, and blank vouchers may have been used during the period reviewed;
- A double payment to the Friends of Millbury Seniors, Inc. in the amount of $1,000 for 675 rides was paid on May 16 and June 30;
- Authorized payments to town employees as independent contractors rather than being reported as wages on a W2;
- Unsupported amounts in vouchers were submitted in June 2011 without original invoices or supporting documentation;
- The Council on Aging was accepting donations to the Friends of the Millbury Seniors in lieu of fees for building use.
Some of the suggested improvements in the report:
- A set of policies and procedures needs to be established through the town's finance director in regard to financial management of the Council on Aging;
- A time for signing all vouchers paid by the council needs to be established at its regularly scheduled meetings only;
- The use of pre-signed vouchers must immediately cease;
- The building use policy must establish a set fee to be paid to the town of Millbury and not the Friends;
- Separation of Council on Aging and Friends activities and the establishment of a revolving fund for the council through the town treasurer.
- Cease the practice of the Friends purchasing goods or paying for services rendered on behalf of the Council on Aging.