Edgartown selectmen, wastewater commission, at odds over policy

Edgartown selectmen agreed to seek an opinion from their independent auditor about new accounting policies adopted by Edgartown wastewater district commissioners. The commissioners outlined the changes at the selectmen’s meeting on Monday.

Wastewater District Commission chairman Tim Connelly said the commissioners now get reconciled financial reports, as well as a manager’s report, monthly. The department has switched to new accounting software, segregated billing and collection, and installed new equipment to measure wastes dumped at the facility by private truckers.

“It’s been quite trying, but I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” Mr. Connelly said.

The commissioners also changed their policy to require a commissioner’s signature, in addition to plant manager Joe Alosso’s signature, on warrants authorizing payroll and other payment obligations. The policy provides for an exception, however, that did not sit well with selectmen. In a case where all three commissioners are out of town, plant manager Joe Alosso alone could sign, with the understanding that a commissioner would review the warrants and sign later.

“I would question that,” selectman Margaret Serpa said. “I understand but I disagree. I think we need an auditor’s opinion.”

State police opened an investigation into billing procedures at the wastewater plant last winter, after the town’s independent auditor found serious problems with the way plant personnel account for sewage dumped by private haulers. That investigation is still underway.

Also on Monday, selectmen voted to accept gifts from the Edgartown Library foundation. The foundation donated to the Edgartown Library: an early literacy station, a Microsoft surface table, some curtains, a self-check out system, and a sound system for movies and video games.

Under procedures outlined by town counsel Ron Rappaport last week, selectmen must vote to accept gifts of property. Town administrator Pam Dolby said the town accountant is working to set up accounts and establish a procedure for accepting gifts of money, so that the town can comply with public procurement laws.