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NO. 83. AN ACT RELATING TO TOWN AUDITORS.

(H.652)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 17 V.S.A. § 2646(6) is amended to read:

(6) One auditor for the term of three years who shall be elected by ballot; unless the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor in accordance with the provisions of section 2651b of this title;

Sec. 2. 17 V.S.A. § 2651b is added to read:

§ 2651b. ELIMINATION OF OFFICE OF AUDITOR; APPOINTMENT OF PUBLIC

ACCOUNTANT

(a) A town may vote by ballot at an annual meeting to eliminate the office of town auditor. If a town votes to eliminate the office of town auditor, the selectboard shall contract with a public accountant, licensed in this state, to perform an annual financial audit of all funds of the town. Unless otherwise provided by law, the selectboard shall provide for all other auditor duties to be performed. A vote to eliminate the office of town auditor shall remain in effect until rescinded by majority vote of the legal voters present and voting, by ballot, at an annual meeting duly warned for that purpose.

(b) The term of office of any auditor in office on the date a town votes to eliminate that office shall expire on the 45th day after such vote or on the date upon which the selectboard enters into a contract with a public accountant under this section, whichever occurs first.

Sec. 3. 24 V.S.A. § 933 is amended to read:

§ 933. *[SELECTMEN]* SELECTBOARD MAY FIX; WHEN

When a town does not fix the amount of the compensation to be paid such officers and town employees, the *[selectmen]* selectboard shall fix and determine the same except as to their own pay which shall be fixed by the auditors at the time of the annual town audit.

If the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor and the voters fail to fix the compensation to be paid to members of the selectboard, selectboard members shall be compensated at the rate at which they were compensated during the immediately preceding year.

Sec. 4. 24 V.S.A. § 1681 is amended to read:

§ 1681. AUDITORS; DUTIES; MEETING

Town auditors shall meet at least twenty-five days before each annual town meeting, examine and adjust the accounts of all town and town school district officers and all other persons authorized by law to draw orders on the town treasurer. Such auditing shall include the account which the treasurer is required to keep with the collector, the tax accounts of the collector, trust accounts where the town or any town officer, as such officer, is trustee or where the town is sole beneficiary, accounts relating to the town and town school district indebtedness and accounts of any special funds in the care of any town or town school district official. Notice of such meeting shall be given by posting or publication ten days in advance of such meeting. However, if the town has not elected to eliminate the office of auditor, and town auditors and the school board concur, the town auditors need not conduct an audit of school district accounts as to school district fiscal years which are audited by a public accountant.

Sec. 5. 24 V.S.A. § 1682 is amended to read:

§ 1682. REPORT; DISTRIBUTION

(a) The auditors shall report their findings in writing and cause the same to be mailed or otherwise distributed to the legal voters of the town at least ten days before the annual meeting. They shall at the same time deliver to the town clerk the copies required by section 1173 of this title and shall place all surplus copies in the custody of the town clerk before the first Tuesday in March.

(b) If a town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor, the findings of the public accountant employed in accordance with section 2651b of Title 17 shall be mailed or otherwise distributed by the selectboard in the same manner that findings are required to be distributed by auditors.

Sec. 6. 24 V.S.A. § 1683(d) is amended to read:

(d) The annual report of the town auditors or the selectboard, if the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor, shall include the report and budget of the supervisory union as required by 16 V.S.A. § 261a(10).

Sec. 7. 24 V.S.A. § 1686 is amended to read:

§ 1686. PENALTY

(a) At any time in their discretion, town auditors may, and if requested by the *[selectmen]* selectboard, shall, examine and adjust the accounts of any town officer authorized by law to receive money belonging to the town.

(b) If the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor, the public accountant employed by the selectboard shall perform the duties of the town auditors under subsection (a) of this section upon request of the selectboard.

(c) *[Such]* Any town officer who wilfully refuses or neglects to submit his or her books, accounts, vouchers or tax bills to the auditors or the public accountant upon request, or to furnish all necessary information in relation thereto, shall be ineligible to reelection for the year ensuing and be subject to the penalties otherwise prescribed by law.

Sec. 8. 16 V.S.A. § 563(17) is amended to read:

(17) Shall employ a public accountant at least once in each period of three years to audit the financial statements of the school district. The school board may authorize an audit in conjunction with another school district or supervisory union. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply if the town has voted to eliminate the office of auditor under section 2651b of Title 17 and an audit of the school district's accounts under section 1681 of Title 24 is performed by a public accountant.

Sec. 9. MUNICIPAL CHARTERS

The authority to vote to eliminate the office of town auditor and to appoint a public accountant to perform the duties of town auditors, as provided in 17 V.S.A. § 2651b, shall extend to all towns, notwithstanding any charter provision to the contrary.

Approved: April 8, 1998