by Mary Grow
China selectmen and representatives of the South China Volunteer Fire Department spent part for the Aug. 7 selectmen’s meeting sorting out auditing requirements, with specific reference to the importance of the transition from one fiscal year to the next. China’s fiscal year ends June 30 and the new one – 2017-18 currently – begins July 1.
Fire Department Treasurer Fred Glidden told selectmen he presented several invoices dated in June for payment after July 1 and was told they could not be paid. They were 2016-17 bills and according to auditing practice, that year’s books are closed and cannot be reopened, and prior-year bills can’t be paid from current-year funds.
Had the department ended FY 2016-17 with a surplus that went into its reserve fund, the bills might have been paid from reserve in July, Town Manager and Treasurer Daniel L’Heureux said; but there was not an adequate balance carried forward.
Glidden said he already paid two of the bills from departmental funds, raised through donations and fundraisers, and intended to bill the town for reimbursement in this fiscal year. Fine, L’Heureux said, as long as the bill to the town is itemized.
For the remaining bills, the manager recommended getting new invoices dated in July. They would then fall under the current year’s budget.
When Glidden and Fire Chief Richard Morse objected that they had carried bills forward in past years, L’Heureux said sometimes there are such irregularities, until the town’s auditor spots them and requires correction.
In a related matter, Glidden said LD 150, sponsored by State Representative and China Village Fire Chief Tim Theriault, takes effect Nov. 1 (90 days after the state legislature adjourned for the year). LD 150 repeals the $1,000 limit on the municipal appropriation that can be given to an organized volunteer fire department in a lump sum and adds a requirement that the purposes of the appropriation be itemized.
In other words, after Nov. 1 this year, and at the beginning of subsequent fiscal years, China’s three volunteer fire departments can request a check for their annual appropriation and do their own spending, instead of submitting bills bi-weekly to the town office.
Neil Farrington, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, advised Glidden and Morse to make sure if they choose that option, they will continue to share the town’s discount on purchases like diesel fuel and heating oil. Selectmen asked L’Heureux to investigate the question.
In other business, L’Heureux said he hopes to be able to recommend the 2017-18 tax rate at the selectmen’s Aug. 21 meeting. He is waiting to hear whether the state will approve China’s application to add the new Central Maine Power Company substation off Route 3 to the town’s Tax Increment Financing Program. Whether the value of the new substation is in the TIF program or the regular tax base will affect the rate he recommends.
Selectmen reaffirmed their intention to offer the basement of the old town house beside the town office for rent to a nonprofit group. They authorized L’Heureux to do necessary repairs and maintenance.
L’Heureux said the Thurston Park II Committee did not endorse the proposal for selective timber cutting on an additional approximately five acres in the town-owned park, so only the work originally planned will be done.
L’Heureux and Farrington repeated their request for volunteers for the vacant budget committee position, the 2018 Bicentennial committee and other town boards and committees.