Chair purchase raises procedural questions

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BFTownHall2

BEACON FALLS — The purchase of an office chair by First Selectman Christopher Bielik led to questions from the Board of Finance this month.

The purchase order for the chair, which cost $680, was created shortly after Bielik had won the election on Nov. 5, but before he was sworn in on Nov. 15.

Bielik said he sought to buy the chair because there was none in the office.

According to the minutes of the finance board’s Dec. 17 meeting, Treasurer Michael Krenesky took issue that the chair was purchased in the final week of the previous administration and didn’t sign the check.

He was also concerned the money was not originally budgeted for that chair.

Krenesky said, according to the minutes, that he refused to sign the check because he did not think that it was a proper use of town money.

According to the minutes, Board of Finance Chairman Jim Huk said the treasurer was not allowed to make a judgment call on how money is spent, if the money is available in the department’s budget line.

The money for the chair falls under the office supplies line item, which Huk said, in an email, is appropriate for that expenditure.

Huk questioned if Krenesky had overstepped his authority and whose role is it to stop a town check, according to the meeting minutes. He said the role of the treasurer isn’t clear and needs to be better defined.

In an email, Huk said from his perspective a department head signs off on a purchase, as it’s his or her budget, the selectmen sign off for oversight and the treasurer signs to ensure the funds are available.

“Whether or not the treasurer should have the authority to refuse to sign, potentially holding the payment, for any reason beyond fund availability needs to be explicitly stated, via policy or ordinance,” Huk said in an email.

Huk said in the email he is pushing to get more clarity going forward so the purpose of each signoff is clear.

Board member Jack Levine felt a first selectman-elect does not have the authority to make a purchase before he was formally sworn in as first selectman, according to the minutes.

However, Bielik said, officials checked with the Secretary of the State’s office and were informed that a first selectman-elect has the power to transact certain business before being officially sworn into office. The purchase of office furniture falls into this category, he said.

Bielik said Krenesky signed the check for the purchase of the chair at the end of the meeting.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Still doesn’t change the fact our new First Selectman’s first order of business was to make an outrageous expenditure. And it appears you Mr Huk BOF Chair will support his spending habits.

    No soap box just don’t let you political aspirations cloud your judgement,your defense of your party puts your motives in question. Watch and question ALL spending like Mr Krenesky even if it means delaying the signing of a check, which he did.

  2. Per CT Statutes, payments are authorized by two Selectmen, and their signature is the only requirement for the payment of the check. It is the duty of the Treasurer to pay those orders as long as there are funds available. He has no authority to stop payment for any other reason.

    These are facts, not my opinion. The lack of attention to the statutes and additional lack of documentation around these critical financial processes are amongst the key issues facing this town.

    I look forward to your continued sense of moral outrage on how your tax dollars have been managed in the upcoming months. There are issues upcoming slightly more important than this pettiness, so by all means have your soap box ready to go.

  3. I agree and support that Treasurer Krenesky was just working to protect the taxpayers from excessive and unnecessary spending. I would hope that he will continue to question expenditures that are outside what would be considered normal and reasonable to most of us. I find no comparison with what a lawyer or doctor might spend on their furniture. We are talking about taxpayer funds. The first selectman must be very embarrassed by his actions to try to turn this into a political issue. I also find it troublesome that the chairman of the board of finance would suggest that the Treasurer just blindly sign off on all expenditures. At least someone at town hall is working for the taxpayer.

  4. Mr Krenesky is just doing his job as Treasurer and responsible citizen.

    I to have been involved with the purchase of office furniture, for First Selectman Bielik to purchase a chair for $680 when a $200 chair would have done the same job for far less money makes you wonder how fiscally conservative he will be. But he does come from a military background that didn’t require much restraint, he had to spend it all or not get more. I only hope when it comes to budget season all departments remember this purchase when they are asked to trim their budgets.

    If the previous administration had spent $680 on a chair you better beleive this thread would be full of DTC and fictional characters crying foul for overspending.

    Oh yea, what ever happened to the website?

    The current BOS clerk was outraged that minutes were not timely posted to the site but i haven’t seen any minutes since 11/18

    Just sayin……

  5. and the political blather from Mr. Krenesky continues…

    Having been involved in the purchase/sale of executive office furniture, $680 is not as ridiculous as some have made it out to be. Even the Staples catalog has some chairs at the $1600 price point. How much do you think the chairs in your doctor’s office or lawyer’s office cost ? Most would be surprised. Mr. Krenesky, would apparently refuse to sign the payment check.

    At some point, running a town has to become more of a business and less of a political opportunity. That point was reached on election day, when the people of Beacon Falls decided to NOT re-elect Mr. Smith to the top leadership role in our town. In eighteen months time, it will again become a political opportunity – but we can not allow that to impact the BUSINESS of the running of our town.

    Odds are pretty good that Mike wouldn’t have even blinked before signing a check for office supplies ordered by the Smith leadership team.

    It’s time to decide if you want to become part of the solution or if you’d rather let your sour grapes have you continue to be part of the problem.

  6. At our Board of Finance meeting, the subject of the First Selectman’s chair was brought up by the Town Treasurer. I made only a couple of comments regarding the purchase, one of which appears in this article. Yes, the purchase order was signed by the First Selectman before he officially took office. However, the Town’s newly elected chief executive officer needed a chair to sit on. The previous chair was the property of the former First Selectman. In my opinion, it was a reasonable purchase and did not deserve the time spent questioning the expenditure. I sincerely hope we stop the petty politics and start worrying about the real issues our town is facing.