At Town Hall, Kristie Wadsworth has been working a lot of extra hours recently. Many will recognize her in her capacity as Assistant Treasurer, working with Tracy Borst, our Town Clerk and Treasurer. However, things are undergoing some changes currently.
The Town administration is being reconfigured to accommodate the Town Manager form of governance. By law, the Town Manager is the administrative head of all departments, and this role includes being charged “To do all the accounting for all of the departments of the town.” [VSA Title 24;Chapter 37, § 1236]
In practice, staying abreast of the multitude of financial transactions that keep the town running would tie up 100 percent of a Town Manager’s time. Larger towns often employ a Finance Director who supervises employees in financial record keeping, oversees and controls expenditures of all town funds, and, along with the Town Manager, prepares and presents the town budget.
Thetford isn’t quite at the point of needing (or affording) a Finance Director. Instead, Town Manager Bryan Gazda has reshuffled some roles and responsibilities between existing personnel.
First, a little history. In 2019, when the Town was contemplating the changeover to Town Manager governance, then-Treasurer Jill Graff retired. No candidates came forward for the Treasurer position, so Tracy Borst, the Town Clerk, stepped in to fill that void. Tracy absorbed the Treasurer’s duties in an intense few weeks before Jill finally departed. Tracy then became the Clerk-Treasurer, a position she has held ever since. A precedent for that joint role is found in several other towns. To help with the bookkeeping load, Kristie Wadsworth was hired to work under Tracy as Assistant Treasurer.
Going forward to 2023, Town Manager Bryan Gazda has created the position of Town Accountant to do the daily work of “accounting for all departments of the Town.” The Accountant answers to the Town Manager, keeps record of finances, and reconciles all bank statements of the Town. Bryan assigned that position to Kristie, who moved out of the Clerk’s office and now occupies the office next to the Town Manager. The changeover in workload is not instantaneous, and 2023 will be a year of transition. Tracy still retains the Treasurer position and oversees the Town’s income – that is, accounts receivable and property taxes. She will also retain the role of signatory for the Town’s accounts. Kristie will handle the Town’s spending (accounts payable), employee payroll and associated taxes, and will also balance the departmental accounts and record all the town’s financial information in the general ledger.
In addition, Kristie is now in charge of human resources and will keep all the records on town employees, such as hiring and firing documentation, wages, and benefits. She will help in the orientation of new employees and explain benefits, insurance, and other personnel issues with new and current employees. She will make sure Department of Public Works members are up to date on their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). On top of all that, she will still assist the Town Treasurer “as needed” and help the Town Manager administer grants and prepare the annual Town budget.
Kristie’s new position coincided with the end-of-year crush to update changes in wages and benefits for 2023, the issuing of tax forms 10-99 and W-2, paying of quarterly taxes, and the closing out of the books for 2022. No wonder she has been working late.
Fortunately Kristie enjoys working with money and finances! We are lucky indeed to have such skilled and dedicated staff who are willing to go the extra mile to keep Town administration on track.