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Finance Director highlights pandemic expenses, new technology

January 13, 2021
The town's Finance Director talked about managing the department during a pandemic, looking at new technology, and mother matters during a department update to the selectmen.

Finance Director Holly Burbank met with the selectmen during their Dec. 16 meeting. She said she started as Finance Director in March right at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and hadn't met with the board until then.

"It's been a pretty hectic and crazy year," Burbank said. "I started right as COVID hit so trying to learn the job and also sort of coordinate COVID related issues in our finance office was pretty wild."

Burbank said she and the office staff have been working hard to manage pandemic-related expenses. She said they have been busy tracking expenses related to the pandemic on a separate spreadsheet with backup paperwork so they can get reimbursed by the government.

As of the end of 2020 she said they were expecting a final reimbursement of $449,897 which included police and fire wages from Sept. 1-Oct. 15. Burbank said they got an email that the reimbursement would be coming, indicating it was approved and would likely be for the full amount.

The office has run into a few challenges because of the pandemic.

"When COVID hit it was kind of a challenge to wait for our software programs to catch up to speed," Burbank said.

Updates also had some problems at first.

The financial audit also took a lot longer than usual. Burbank said usually the process is three to five days, though due to remote work it took three months. Burbank said this process was going on while she was trying to learn the job. She said she hoped the process would go a lot smoother going into the end of the year.

Setting the tax rate also took a bit longer. With the new statistical assessing update, she said a few things were pushed out a few weeks and information was entered into the database before the MS1 form was turned into the Department of Revenue Administration.

"The girls in the assessing department are pretty fantastic with what they do," Burbank said.

The department was also scheduled for some technology upgrades. Burbank said most of their workstations were going to be replaced as part of a regular schedule and three laptops were going to be set up.

Burbank said she wanted to research options for upgrading the payroll and finance software. She said getting new software would be expensive, but the department has been having some problems with its current software. She said changing one thing in the software changes a number of other unintended things that they have to go back and fix. Board chair Chan Eddy said maybe it would be better to pay upfront for new software than pay for the labor and time to fix the current software. Burbank said they have a system where they can call on another company to help with issues, but this help costs around $250 an hour.

Given the amount of paperwork that comes through the office they're also looking into an electronic document management system for the finance and assessing offices. This can make documents searchable and easier to pull up.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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