New agreement in place for financial oversight of Monroe public schools

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Monroe Town Hall is located at 7 Fan Hill Road.

Town Council members held a special meeting Thursday to scrap an agreement for the town’s finance department to oversee Board of Education finances until February, in favor of a new one with oversight lasting until July 3.

Town Attorney Frank Lieto says one major change to the memorandum of agreement gives town finance director, Ronald Bunovsky, more flexibility.

“In the previous agreement the finance director could only perform financial duties, as set forth in the Board of Education finance director job description,” Lieto said of fiscal operations and budgeting.

New language in the agreement is broader, allowing Bunovsky to have oversight of anything he deems relevant, according to Lieto.

Central Office is shorthanded with the paid suspensions of Superintendent of Schools Jack Zamary and Interim Finance Director Frank B. Connolly, so the intent of the agreement is to assist with the new budget process and in closing a $1.5 million deficit in the current education budget.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg said Bunovsky will oversee the Board of Education’s finance office, while discussions take place on a proposal for the creation of a joint finance service for municipal government and education going forward.

The Town Council unanimously passed the original MOA drafted by Lieto on Monday night with amendments.

Councilman Jason Maur, who is an attorney, motioned to add the word “proposal” to the section of the MOA to create a joint department of finance, because approvals will still be needed by the Board of Education and the Town Council.

The motion passed unanimously.

However, several council members expressed concern over amending the document without the town attorney being present, so Maur motioned to change the termination of the agreement from June 30 to Feb. 28 to allow the MOA to go into effect, while giving Lieto time to review it and make any necessary changes for a longer term agreement.

Kellogg asked for the special meeting Thursday, so the Town Council could vote on Lieto’s revised version of the MOA.

During Monday’s Town Council meeting, Maur unsuccessfully motioned to attach the job description of the Board of Education finance director to the agreement to protect the town from legal liability should either side accuse the other of not following the agreement.

Lieto addressed that concern by using broader language for Bunovsky’s responsibilities.

“I want to thank the town attorney for working with me to address my concerns,” Maur said at Thursday’s meeting. “I think it’s a stronger agreement. I fully support it as drafted.”

Then the council voted unanimously in favor of adopting the revised MOA.

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