CROYDON — As the small town of 760 people is dealing with the controversy over a push to eliminate the one-man police department, officials are not talking about the problems found in the town’s financial audit.
The audit, conducted by the Concord-based firm Plodzik & Sanderson, found serious issues with Croydon’s finances, including that James Britton, the town treasurer, is known to take home cash deposits and the town’s blank checks.
“In documenting internal control over cash receipts and disbursements of the town, it was noted that funds awaiting deposits are taken home and stored at the Treasurer’s home overnight,” a letter from Plodzik & Sanderson to the Board of Selectmen states.
Croydon’s treasurer is an elected position.
Britton did not respond to voicemails left at his home, where he reportedly works. He did respond via social media, but he did not answer any questions about the audit and his reported practice of taking home the money and checks.
Selectmen Gary Quimby and Joe Marko also did not respond to requests for comment. Selectman Reagan Clarke, who was elected to the board in March along with Marko, said he was unaware of the audit until contacted by the Union Leader.
Former Selectman Carol Marsh could not be reached for comment, and former Selectman George Caccavaro did not respond to requests for comment. Cathy Peschke, the selectman’s secretary, also did not respond to a request for comment.
The audit letter from Plodzik & Sanderson is dated Jan. 16, 2019, and was published in the town report distributed at the March Town Meeting. It found the town lacks policies to govern its finances, and that internal controls in place to safeguard the town’s money can be circumvented. In one case, a check to a vendor was sent out and cashed by that vendor before selectmen even signed the manifest to approve the payment, according to the audit letter.
There are also concerns about the way payroll is processed in town, as the payroll withholding and leave time are all manually calculated by Britton.
“This practice can be cumbersome and puts the town at a higher risk of improper payment or improper use of leave time,” the audit letter states.
The Plodzik & Sanderson letter recommends the town buy a safe for storing checks and depositing cash, to be located in town hall, and that the town “at the very least” develop some written policies on financial closing, purchasing, disaster recovery, investments and general personnel policies.
Quimby stated on the record at last week’s selectmen’s meeting that the town does not have any written policies for town employees.
Croydon residents voted 48-36 at the March Town Meeting to eliminate the police department, staffed solely by Chief Richard Lee, and to go with a contract from neighboring Newport.
Lee and several residents have called that vote illegal, and 75 registered voters subsequently signed a petition for a special Town Meeting to re-vote on the matter. T
hat meeting must now be set sometime in the next three months.