The First Job: No Interview Required

I’ve been holding out you – I actually have had a job since the summer.  Last week I submitted my first time sheet, for the ten hours I worked in October.  However, since my position is budgeted for a total of 20 hours, and anything else will be volunteer time, it’s not exactly a career advancer.

What is this wonderful job?  A call went out through local communication channels last summer, to fill the vacant town auditor positions.  Vermont statutes require that each town have three auditors to review the town finances and report on them annually to the townspeople.  It’s not a task that crowds of people compete for, and no one ran for the open positions in the March town elections.  Knowing that I would have time to contribute to this, and knowing that I enjoy the company of the town officials I would work with, I answered the call. My letter to the select board (i.e. town council) was accepted, and I had the position.  Eventually two other arms were twisted, and there were three of us.

None of us has been a town auditor before.  My experience is in administration, and I have managed multi-million dollar budgets.  One colleague has spent his career in the insurance business (and is married to a retired banker.)  The other colleague has run her own small businesses and helps people with tax returns.  When we first met in October, we saw that we had complementary skills, interests, and strengths.  With support from the select board, we quickly arranged for the town to send us to an all-day auditor training sponsored by the state association of towns and cities.  We wanted to do things right.

Our little town (village, really) has a population of about 800.  The town government and highway department work with a combined budget of around $600-700,000 and the school budget is just under $2 million.  In recent years, Vermont has seen an embarrassing number of cases of embezzlement and fraud, so the role of citizen auditor can be an important one.  Our town hired an outside auditor last year who assessed our status and procedures, reporting back with observations and suggestions.  We are following up on this.

Thinking about wages, I noticed in the outside auditor’s report that the accounting firm charged between $100 and $300 per hour for their work, depending on the individual’s credentials.  That’s a far cry from the $15 per hour that we are allotted, up to a total of about twenty hours each.  We town auditors decided that although we may not charge the town for every hour of work we do, we would keep track of all our hours, including the ones we designate as volunteer hours.  It is important that the town (or at least the select board) understand the time it takes to do this task.  If we are trying to update and clean up our financial reporting and procedures, we want folks to know that it is not an insignificant project and that we are contributing valuable time to it.

So, with this first piece of the year’s employment puzzle, I am proud to be the chair of the town auditors, working with my colleagues to contribute to the security and well being of my community.

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