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Colonial Beach Council proposes real estate tax increase

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Council agreement with School Board may be slowing the closing of the fiscal year

 

The onset of the agreement began with a meeting scheduled on Oct. 28 and appears that due to legal red tape, the town citizens will not see the signing of this agreement till at least Nov. 12, and only after the School Board gets some answers of its own about the agreement.

After a closed meeting of the Colonial Beach School Board on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss potential legal matters, the board sent a letter to members of town council expressing their desire to cooperate with the council’s recent request to resolve issues raised in Resolution 81-09.

Resolution 81-09 stated that concerns have risen regarding the manner in which Colonial Beach School Board accounts for and manages its funds as a result of information received from the town’s auditor, Nancy Miller; failure of the school to manage and account for its funds, which may result in jeopardizing the town’s bond rating; the possibility of the loss of state or federal funds that have already been received resulting in the town repaying such funds with local funds; and that the town auditor will be unable to finish the audit for the 08-09 town audit. 

In response to those concerns, the council approved an agreement in a special meeting that began on Oct. 21 and ended Oct. 28 to be signed by both the school and the council, which outlined general accounting procedures.

The majority of the agreement contains broad statements that the Colonial Beach School Board will provide financial record keeping of various kinds to the town’s auditor on a timely basis.

Some of the more specific items include compelling the School Board to immediately investigate with respect to all employees, particularly cafeteria workers, whether there are any Fair Labor Standards Act violations; to account for Federal Stimulus funds and to ensure the school does not exceed its funding in any specific category or as whole at all times; and provide written explanation to the town “under oath” in the event that any documentation requested by the town’s auditor is not available.

The agreement also addresses payroll taxes, funds received that have not been appropriated to the school by the town, reviewing the Virginia Retirement System for the past two years, as well as agreements to work with the town and the auditor and to respond within 48 hours to any requests for information made by the town or the auditor.   

The letter in response to the council informs them that the School Board has forwarded copies of the resolution and agreement to auditor Nancy Miller and the School Board’s attorney for their review and comment. Neither entity had responded at the drafting of the letter.

The board informed the council that once the attorney and auditor had given their input, the board would act expeditiously on the issues.

In the interim, the board has invited the town council to send a representative(s) to the Regular School Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Town Center.

Trivett’s letter indicated that a representative could assist the School Board in better understanding the meaning and intent of the council’s resolution. Trivett added that the town attorney’s attendance at the regular meeting would be “most helpful.”

Vice Mayor Trish King said at the Oct. 28 meeting of council that the agreement states that the council will offer any help it can to the School Board to facilitate the issues’ resolution, adding that the town was willing to fund any additional outside help that may be needed.

Earlier this year, during budget negotiations the town denied the school’s request for salary to create a position to manage the Bright Accounting System, which ultimately led to the School Board choosing the RDA accounting system even after agreeing with the Town Council to implement the Bright System.

The school has not indicated directly whether the board plans to sign the agreement, but does indicate they want the problems solved. The question is: will both government agencies be able to work together without the implementation of Resolution 81-09 and its accompanying agreement?

 

— Linda Farneth 

 

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