Weybridge to decide on uses for embezzlement settlement money

WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge residents will be asked in September to weigh in on possible uses of a $475,980 in insurance reimbursement money the town has received after the embezzlement case involving former Town Clerk and Treasurer Karen Brisson.
Weybridge Selectwoman Gale Hurd said the money must be earmarked for municipal projects, and not for schools. Residents could also recommend returning all or a portion of the funds to taxpayers by lowering the municipal property tax rate.
Brisson, who had served as town clerk and treasurer for more than 26 years, resigned last November after admitting to having embezzled municipal funds. An ensuing forensic audit of the town’s books revealed the magnitude of that embezzlement: An estimated $485,000 since 2006.
Brisson has accepted a plea deal and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 18 in Federal District Court in Rutland.
Meanwhile, the selectboard has tentatively set a special meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 10, at which voters will decide how to allocate the $475,980 of insurance money, either toward funding town projects or lowering taxes, or a combination.
Hurd (who plans to step down this fall; see story) said residents should first contact the selectboard before Aug. 5 about their suggestions on how the $475,980 should be used.
The selectboard will review residents’ suggestions and then draft a series of articles recommending specific uses for the money. For example, Hurd said some of the money could be used to build a capital reserve fund for replacement of heavy equipment. The town could also use some of the money to do more road and culvert improvements.
Ultimately, voters will get the final say on how the funds are spent.
“At the meeting, voters will be free to amend or vote down anything we suggest, or suggest new initiatives,” Hurd said.
Board members should also be in a position to tell residents the town’s precise financial situation after some months of uncertainty. That’s because the firm of Town Telling & Associates will have completed its audit of the fiscal year 2013 books.
“Once that audit is completed, we should know exactly what our cash position is, as well as our obligations,” Hurd said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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