SALAMANCA - With saddened hearts, the members of Southern Tier West Regional Planning Board opened their meeting with a moment of silence and reflection on a past member that held a legacy of public service.
On March 14, while vacationing in Australia, long-time Southern Tier West board member Susan Foster Myers, 68, passed away of an apparent heart attack, according to reports. Myers was the chair of the Transportation Committee and the vice president of the planning board. In her time as a public servant, Myers served various terms as an Allegany County legislator and on various town and village boards. She was also instrumental in the designation of Route 17 as Interstate 86. Her time in economic development proved that areas do better, economically, with interstates nearby.
The board made the determination that her seat as vice president will remain vacant until the September reorganization meeting.
As the meeting continued, plans to rectify potentially problematic audit findings were introduced by Executive Director Richard Zink. His plan to better create a separation of duties, even with his small staff, when it comes to cash receipts and deposits would incorporate a three-person system.
In previous organization audits, the lack of separation in cash receipts and reconciliation with bank records have raised flags. Now, the Appalachian Regional Commission officials have taken notice and the problems could pose a problem in future funding, Zink said.
To rectify the problem of a single person, or even two, doing the job, three will be used. The first person will open the mail and prepare deposit slips while the second will input the received monies into the agency accounting system and make the deposit. The final person will be responsible for full reconciliation of the reports.
"We have asked ARC what they are looking for and they really didn't have a response for us," Zink told the members of the board.
Plans for the procedure are expected to be presented to the members of the board at the May 22 meeting, Zink said.
With the western Southern Tier being an agricultural region, a large focus of the planning board has been in establishing local food networks, in an effort to build farmers markets and maintaining sustainability. That program may see what would be a shot in the arm, on the staffing level.
With staff members of Southern Tier West being as busy as they are, even the most dedicated member is strapped for time on projects. A plan to incorporate AmeriCorps workers may help that out. The agency can bring a person on board at $2,700 for 900 hours of work. Those 900 hours would be nearly a full-time position that would be minimally sustained through Southern Tier West, but would be able to do the leg work to make sure everything is going in the right direction for successful and sustainable markets to bring producers and consumers together for local foods, Zink said.
The meeting was adjourned in the memory of Myers.