Selectmen issue report on Rec. Dept. investigationBy Mike Berger
The mysterious details regarding the financial investigation into the Canton Travel Basketball program and the Canton Recreation Department, covering many executive sessions by the Board of Selectmen over the past several months, were publicly released Tuesday night by the board’s special labor counsel Leo Peloquin.
Peloquin began his report by noting that selectmen had released only limited information to date and there are still limits to what information they can provide.
The investigation is still being examined by the state attorney general’s office in conjunction with the Canton Police Department, and a final report will be released at some point after the investigation concludes.
The interim report focuses on steps taken to date to address the non-collection and mishandling of town funds in the Recreation Department.
As previously reported by the Citizen, the investigation began with a financial audit of the travel basketball program, run by longtime resident Tony Braconi, and the internal financial practices of longtime Recreation Director Jeff Kaylor, who has since been dismissed by selectmen.
The privately run Canton Travel Basketball program (CTB) charges participants a registration fee in part to pay for gym rental costs. Selectmen began an outside audit of the program after learning that the CTB had not been paying rental fees for use of town and school-owned gym facilities.
The audit revealed that for the past five years, Braconi had not paid the gym rental fees and that Kaylor had “made little or no effort” to collect the delinquent fees and instead paid the CTB rental fees out of the Recreation Department budget.
In a separate operational matter, the audit found that Kaylor had directed that the cash received to pay fees for other Recreation programs be kept in the department office rather than turned over to the treasurer’s office in accordance with municipal finance law and town policy. The audit found that the cash kept in the Recreation office was not properly accounted for. In a six-month period ending December 31, 2011, the department received more than $10,000 in cash that was not turned over to the town treasurer — and over $7,000 of that amount was not properly accounted for.
To this point there have been no findings by the audit that any town employee profited financially from either the non-collection of the gym rental fees or the mishandling of the cash receipts in the Recreation Department.
Selectmen held a hearing and dismissed Kaylor from his position. Another employee who worked for Kaylor was suspended for three days but has since returned to work. The report said that selectmen took into consideration that many of the employee’s actions were directed by Kaylor.
The report said that selectmen are considering options for recouping any sums owed to the town. Selectmen have implemented new internal controls for users of recreational facilities and programs. Selectmen also appointed Janet Maguire as the new recreation director, and her duties include taking steps to ensure that there is no reoccurrence of the problems discovered in the audit.
For the 2011-2012 youth travel basketball season, the school department directly rented gym space to the CTB — not through the Recreation Department — and the schools have notified Town Administrator Bill Friel that the CTB has paid all of its gym rental fees on a timely basis.
In other news:
* Selectmen elected Bob Burr as board chairman, Avril Elkort as vice chairman, and Sal Salvatori as clerk. The board thanked John Connolly for his hard work this past year as chairman.
* Friel reported that the deal between the Knights of Columbus and the town for the purchase of the K of C hall on Pleasant Street is progressing and should be completed by July 1. The building will be used as a new senior center.
* Friel also reported that the Bolivar Street garage renovations are almost completed. Selectmen transferred up to $128,000 from the NSTAR mitigation account to cover the project’s final costs. Friel estimated the final cost of the project should total $1.7 million but selectmen agreed it is money well spent to bring the facility to a safe and clean facility for the DPW staff. A new DPW garage in some towns range between $5 million and $10 million dollars. The DPW held an informal public tour on May 23 and a formal dedication of the facility will be held at a later date.
* John Grasso of the Halfway Cafe reported that 700 runners have already registered for the June 10 Halfway 5K road race, and as many as 1,500 to 2,000 people could attend if there is good weather. Proceeds from the race will benefit Cops for Kids with Cancer.
* Selectmen signed a special letter of appreciation for fourth grader Griffin Lincoln for his willingness to raise money for pediatric cancer research. As reported in the April 5 edition of the Citizen, Lincoln will have his head shaved as part of the One Mission Kids’ Cancer Buzz-Off. His goal is to raise $3,000. At Tuesday’s meeting, Selectman Sal Salvatori said if Lincoln raises $5,000, he would also shave his head.
* Selectmen formally appointed Stacy Nee and Kevin Coffey as part-time animal control officers.
* Selectmen issued a year-round common victualler’s license to Joseph and Anna Federico for Giovanni’s Ice Cream, which will open at 598 Washington Street in mid June.
* Selectmen held a moment of silence for the late Edward Quigley, father of Detective Sgt. Jim Quigley.
* A concert called “We Take Care of Our Own,” planned as a fundraiser for CHS sophomore Alexandra Hildred to support her recovery following a serious car accident on York Street, will be held June 2 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, located at 1508 Washington Street.
* Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, May 29, at 7 p.m.
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