PLYMOUTH – At Wednesday’s Council Meeting, Mayor David Merchant announced a software upgrade for the finance department that should close loopholes and prevent the possibility of fraud.
This upgrade will happen on July 1. Currently, staff from the Finance Department are undergoing training on the new software at Terryville High School.
“This goes back to when we first got the news that David Bertnagel was taking our money,” said Merchant. “Our software was antiquated and I consider upgrading it one of the biggest accomplishments of the last six years. Before, there were loopholes which allowed him to take out money without it being detected. Now, the fraud risk is mitigated. Five years ago, the finance department was at an all-time low. Once we start this new software in July we will have completely rebuilt.”
Bertnagel, the former finance director, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in May 2015 for theft and tax charges stemming from embezzling more than $800,000 from the town. He spent most of that time at Fort Devens, a minimum security federal prison in Massachusetts.
Merchant said that the current finance director, Ann Marie Rheault, reported that this year would be another good year for Plymouth financially.
“We’re going to finish in the black and start rebuilding our fund balance,” Merchant said.
Additionally, Merchant informed the Town Council he would be closing the deal on the sale of Main Street School to EdAdvance for $400,000. EdAdvance, one of six regional education service centers in the state, will be renovating the school to create a regional service center for special education students, which will serve 20 to 25 students in preschool through fifth grade. The Town Council approved the sale at an April 3 meeting.
“I will be signing the paperwork today,” Merchant said Thursday. “It’s definitely a big deal for us to have sold the school. EdAdvance should be coming in next week to start the renovation process. They are hoping that they will have it all up and running by the end of the calendar year.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.