Regional trash district to be audited after improper payments, financial troubles
The Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District Committee voted on Wednesday to spend up to $25,000 on a forensic audit.
This will be the first audit of the trash disposal district since 2012 as officials work to sort out financial issues.
The vote to solicit an audit of the district came the same night that the committee disclosed that the district’s former consultant manager Raymond Pickles made an unauthorized payment of $19,000 to a former employee.
Moss Hollow Management, a largely one-man consultancy owned by Pickles—who also serves as Marion’s town clerk—had run the trash disposal district for many years until the towns cut ties with the firm in February. Moss Hollow’s contract with the towns had long expired, but Pickles had continued his work without a contract.
The district, which allows the three member towns to jointly contract with waste-to-energy facility SEMASS in Rochester, operates transfer stations in the three towns. The town administrators of the towns are overseeing the district in the interim.
Until Wednesday night, the district committee had delayed paying various payments requested by Pickles, including one for a catering bill for a 14-person dinner party held at Pickles' home that puzzled members.
The dinner party apparently served as a board meeting, but details are unclear. In March, Carver Town Administrator Mike Malinoski produced a copy of the meeting notice that was posted in his town. It specifically indicated that district business would not be conducted at the meeting.
The committee authorized the payment of the catering bill for Pickles’ dinner party Wednesday night, along with a number of other outstanding bills and invoices, Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson confirmed after the meeting.
Dawson said that after looking into the matter, the committee learned that “at least the majority” of the dinner party attendees were either members of the district board or spouses of members.
He also said that Pickles hosted similar events each year, and that there is no specific policy on the books regarding the use of public funds for catering.
Committee members also previously held off on paying a bill for the services of Robert Tinkham, who had been solicited to work for the district under Pickles.
In March, Marion Finance Director Judy Mooney said that the committee had never approved using funds to pay for Tinkham’s services, and further, that she was not sure what services he provided.
It’s unclear at this time whether or not the committee has approved those payments to Tinkham since.
“We’re in a financial problem because of the way the district was run before,” Carver Town Administrator Michael Milanoski said during Wednesday night’s meeting.
A forensic audit is more in-depth than a traditional audit and requires that every transaction made by the district since 2012 be examined.
“There’s a lot of information that is missing,” Dawson said after the meeting. “So I think we all know that a forensic audit is necessary.”
Milanoski said the committee won’t know exactly how much the audit will cost the district until it’s completed, and said he hopes the final figure will be less than $25,000.