General Governance Practices
The WPCA Board, comprised of five members and three alternates, is governed by the same rules of order that apply to other town meetings. If more than 50-percent of the five-member board are together, that constitutes a meeting and must be posted in advanced.
Meetings are not conducted like a meeting in your marketplace job, where decisions are often made by consensus. An official meeting is posted several days in advance on the Town website with an agenda. The meeting is governed by modified Robert’s Rules of order. Fortunately, the WPCA Administrator and some Board Members have a long history of practice with these rules, so as to hold each other accountable.
Within two days of a meeting the motions made and approved must be posted on the Town website. Within a week the full meeting notes must be posted. These are often 4 – 8 pages in length. It is quite a task to ready those in the prescribed time.
Meetings generally cover approval of previous meetings, reviewing new and pending applications for connection, legal, maintenance and budget items. Like all Town meetings, the WPCA meetings are open to the public.
All non-routine bills are reviewed and approved by the entire WPCA Board each month. Some functions, like payroll, for example, are simply handled automatically office. The WPCA reimburses any expenses incurred by the town monthly or in some cases annually in advance for pension and retirement funds.
The Town and the WPCA have had a choice as to whether to handle WPCA finances as a Special Revenue Fund or an Enterprise Fund. The accounting of a Special Revenue Fund is intended to be year to year accounting, with no amounts carried over from year to year. The Enterprise Fund accounting treats the activity as a stand-alone business entity, with its own requirements to generate a balance sheet, operating budgets, banking and audit requirements for government activities.
Until 2009 finances had been handled by the Controller’s Office as a Special Revenue Funds which is specifically not recommended by the State. The WPCA worked with members of the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen, along with the Town auditors to bring practices in line with more conventional practices of WPCA accounting in Connecticut. The accounting is now done as a stand alone Enterprise Fund starting July 2009.
Isolation of WPCA Funds
In an advisory bulletin* the State Department of Environmental Protection writes:
Note that setting the annual budget for wastewater facilities and the establishment of user charge rates is the responsibility of the WPCA (CGS Section 7-255). In most cases, this means that other municipal boards and commissions do not have any direct input or overview in the water pollution control budget process. In particular, neither the Board of Selectman nor the Board of Finance have rate-setting or review authority in this matter.
* Sewer User Charge Guidance Manual for Municipal Officials, State of CT DEEP, March 1995