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Williamsport getting help with its finances

September 13, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A part-time bookkeeper and a former town clerk are helping Williamsport straighten out its messy financial books, Mayor James G. McCleaf II said Monday.

Kim Wagoner, the bookkeeper, has been hired to work 10 to 15 hours a week for the rest of the year, but some weeks might be longer, McCleaf said after Monday's town council meeting.

He didn't know what her rate of pay would be, but said he has budgeted $7,500 as a maximum for her work. She started Sept. 6.

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McCleaf also said Hagerstown City Clerk Donna K. Spickler, a former Williamsport clerk/treasurer, is again helping the town with its finances.

He said she will be paid, but she also will donate some of her time. There is no agreement in place yet for paying her.

McCleaf said he called Spickler on Aug. 11, the day after the Williamsport Town Council unanimously voted to dismiss Bonnie J. Errico from her job as clerk/treasurer.

He said Spickler started helping the town the same day he called her.

"I needed her expertise," McCleaf said.

The town has struggled with financial difficulties for at least several months.

In May, the town's accountant said Williamsport's general-fund budget had a shortfall of about $260,000 in fiscal year 2004.

Similar problems surfaced later. About $180,000 in federal grant money was mostly unaccounted for and possibly mixed into the town's general fund. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into the matter.

McCleaf reiterated his belief Monday that the town will need an extension to submit its fiscal year 2005 audit. The town has a history of late or incomplete annual audits since at least 1992.

McCleaf said it was his decision to hire Wagoner, whom he knew and whom he said has years of bookkeeping experience.

"I kind of pick my own team on that," he said of hiring new employees.

The exception is the clerk/treasurer. He said the town council decides who holds that position, although the mayor may vote on the appointment, too.

McCleaf said that although the clerk/treasurer position probably will not be filled until the beginning of December or January, he has received at least 10 applications for the job.

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