MONROE, CT — Finance Director Ronald Bunovsky Jr. oversees the finances for the town and the school district under a year old agreement that is beneficial to both sides, according to First Selectman Ken Kellogg.
On Monday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to extend that relationship through June 30.
The first selectman said there was a consensus that things were working well after he had several meeting with Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza, Bunovsky and Human Resources Director Craig Hirsch.
Kellogg said the extension will allow for time to finalize an operations plan for the Board of Education’s consideration. He expects the plan for a Joint Finance Administration to be presented to the Town Council and school board, and be ready for implementation by July 1.
“We’re planning to move forward, but it’s subject to approval of both bodies,” Kellogg said.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, the Town Council’s Legislative and Administrative Committee reviewed the amendment drafted by Town Attorney Frank Lieto to extend the agreement, and agreed it was appropriate and should be forwarded for a vote by the full body.
Councilwoman Dee Dee Martin asked if there are other towns that have a finance director who oversees financial operations and helps prepare budgets for both the municipal and education sides of the ledger.
Bunovsky said there are, including the town of Madison, whose finance director he has spoken to.
Martin asked that there be a legal opinion in writing stating how there are other towns who have a similar operating structure.
She also asked if there were any concerns over whether it blurs a line, having someone in the position of being both a municipal and a Board of Education employee.
“Where does the loyalty lie?” Martin asked. “This is not specific to Mr. Bunovsky. It’s the position I’m talking about.”
“I would certainly hope that the loyalty for all employees, whether employed by the municipal side or the Board of Ed side, the loyalty is to this town and its … citizens and taxpayers,” Kellogg said, “so I think there shouldn’t be a line. We should all be working together.”
Martin noted how the Board of Education has autonomy over its budget, yet Bunovsky is serving as finance director for the town and the school district.
But when it comes to budgeting, Kellogg said the finance director can only make recommendations.
“The finance director does not have the authority to make budget transfers,” he said. “It comes down to the Board of Education, the Board of Finance and the Town Council.”
When Bunovsky signs off on warrants, Martin asked if his is the lone signature. Kellogg said there are multiple signatures.
Monroe public schools has not had its own finance director since Frank Connolly held it on an interim basis early last year. Martin asked if there has been any consideration of re-instituting a search for a new finance director.
Kobza said the district is trying to pursue the Joint Finance Administration at this point, to keep the efficiencies.
For example, he recalled a time when Masuk High School had a drainage problem and Bunovsky contacted the Monroe Department of Public Works to fix it at significant savings over hiring an outside vendor.
In the event that the agreement is not complete by next fiscal year and another extension is needed, Councilman Jason Maur asked if the Town Council can receive an update with details on how the plan has been progressing.
Kellogg said that is a reasonable request.