The following excerpts from theBy-Laws of the Town of Arlington and from Massachusetts General Laws describe the essential duties and responsibilities of the Comptroller.
ARTICLE 5: COMPTROLLER
Section 1. Duties
The Comptroller shall have in addition to the powers and duties conferred and imposed upon Town Accountants, by General Laws, the following powers and duties:
A. Methods of Accounting
He shall prescribe the methods of Accounting and forms to be used by the several departments of the town where in the collection or disbursement of money is concerned, so that such methods and forms shall conform to the requirements of the State Accounting System.
B. Standard Practices
He shall establish standard practices relating to all accounting matters and procedures and the coordination of systems throughout the town, including clerical and office methods, records, reports and procedures as they relate to accounting matters. He shall prepare and issue rules and regulations and instructions relating thereto that shall be binding upon all town agencies and employees.
C. Warrants for Payment
He shall draw all warrants upon the Town Treasurer for the payment of bills, drafts and orders chargeable to the several appropriations and other accounts.
D. Verification of Warrants
Prior to submitting any warrants to the Town Manager, he shall examine and approve as not being fraudulent, unlawful or excessive, all bills, drafts and orders covered thereby. In connection with any such examination, he may make inspection as to the quality, quantity and condition of any materials, supplies or equipment delivered or received by any town officer or agency.
If, upon examination, it appears to the Comptroller that such bills, drafts or orders are fraudulent, unlawful or excessive, he shall file with the Select Board and the Town Treasurer a written report of the reasons for his findings.
E. Custody of Vouchers
He shall have custody of all vouchers which have been entered on warrants for payments and approved by the Town Manager and Comptroller. Said vouchers are to be available for inspection by the Town Treasurer at all times.
F. Balance Sheets
He shall submit a monthly Balance Sheet and an annual Balance Sheet with detailed statements of Cash Receipts and Cash Disbursements at the end of each fiscal year to the Select Board and the Department of Revenue for certification of the Town's Free Cash. Said financial statements shall conform to the requirements of the State System of Accounting and may be audited as directed by the Select Board.
G. Custody of Equipment
He shall be in charge of all accounting and business equipment owned by the Town other than equipment used for educational or classroom purposes.
H. Annual Audit and Regular Reports
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He shall be responsible for coordination of the Annual Town Audit. He shall provide the Select Board, Town Manager, Town Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee with a quarterly report of revenues and expenditures. Each month he shall provide said officials with a report comparing actual with estimated revenues. Whenever applicable, he shall make recommendations regarding the Town's financial condition that he deems appropriate.
Section 2. Written Purchase Orders
No head of a department, board or committee authorized to spend money shall make purchases of supplies or materials or contract to render services to the Town without issuing a written purchase order on prescribed forms for all such supplies or materials or services to be rendered; provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to the salaries or wages of part-time or regularly-employed officers, clerks and wage earners of any department of the Town.
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All purchase orders shall be in triplicate; one to be designated for the Vendor; one to be designated for and delivered to the Comptroller; and one to be designated for the files of the department issuing the order. The order designated for the Vendor, before being transmitted to the Vendor shall be submitted to the Comptroller to be certified by him that there is sufficient unencumbered balance of the appropriation to be charged to liquidate the amount of the order, provided, however, that verbal orders for supplies or materials or services to be rendered may be issued for an amount not to exceed five hundred dollars. All verbal orders shall be confirmed in writing on the prescribed purchase order forms on the day the orders are given and transmitted immediately to the Comptroller for certification.
Chapter 41: Section 57 Books of account and financial records
Section 57. The town accountant shall keep a complete set of books wherein shall be entered the amount of each specific appropriation, the amounts and purposes of expenditures made therefrom, the receipts from each source of income, the amount of each assessment levied, and the abatements made; and he shall keep his accounts, so far as practicable, in conformity with the classifications and forms prescribed by the director of accounts in accordance with section forty-three of chapter forty-four and in conformity with any systems, classifications, forms and designations prescribed pursuant to regulations of the board of education for use by school committees. The town accountant shall have custody of all contracts of the town, shall keep a register of the sureties on all bonds of indemnity given to the town, shall keep a detailed record of the town debt, showing the purpose for which it was incurred, when incurred, when due, the rate of interest and the provisions made for the payment of the debt.
Chapter 41: Section 58 Duties; notice of condition of appropriations; record of appropriations
Section 58. Whenever any appropriation shall have been expended or whenever, in the judgment of the town accountant, it appears that the liabilities incurred against any appropriation may be in excess of the unexpended balance thereof, he shall immediately notify the Select Board and the board, committee, head of department or officer authorized to make expenditures therefrom, and no claim against such appropriation shall be allowed nor any further liability incurred until the town makes provision for its payment. The town accountant shall, at regular intervals and as often at least as once each month, send to the Select Board and to each board, committee, head of department or officer having the disbursement of an appropriation a statement of the amount of orders approved and warrants drawn on behalf of said board, department or officer during the preceding month, and a statement of the balance of such appropriation remaining subject to draft. Each head of a department, board or committee authorized to expend money shall furnish the town accountant, at the close of the financial year, a list of bills remaining unpaid, showing to whom and for what due, and their amounts; and the town accountant shall incorporate the same in his annual report covering the financial transactions of the town, as provided by section sixty-one.
Chapter 41: Section 59 Annual estimates; furnishing to town accountant
Section 59. The Select Board and all boards, committees, heads of departments, or other officers of a town authorized by law to expend money shall furnish to the town accountant, or, if there is no town accountant, to the appropriation, advisory or finance committee, if any, otherwise to the Select Board, not less than ten days before the end of the calendar year, or not less than ninety days prior to the date of the start of the annual town meeting, whichever is later, detailed estimates of the amount necessary for the proper maintenance of the departments under their jurisdiction for the ensuing fiscal year, with explanatory statements as to any changes from the amounts appropriated for the same purposes in the then current fiscal year, and an estimate of amounts necessary for outlays or permanent improvements. They shall also prepare estimates of any income likely to be received by the town during the ensuing fiscal year in connection with the town's business or property intrusted to their care. The Select Board shall include in their estimates the salaries and expenses connected with their own office, and the salaries of all other town officers shall be included in the estimates for the office, department or branch of the public service of which they are in charge. The treasurer shall, in addition to his estimate of the amount required for the maintenance of his own office, prepare a separate statement indicating the amounts required for the payment of interest on the town debt and for the payment of such portions of the town debt as may become due during the ensuing fiscal year.
Chapter 41: Section 60 Table of estimated appropriations
Section 60. The town accountant shall immediately upon the close of each calendar year compile statements in tabulated form showing the amounts appropriated and the amounts expended from each appropriation during the preceding fiscal year, the amounts appropriated for the current fiscal year and the amounts expended from such appropriations during the first six months of such year and the amounts estimated to be expended from such appropriations during the second six months of such year, and the estimates for the next ensuing fiscal year, and shall forthwith furnish a copy thereof to the Select Board, or to such committee as the town may appoint to consider and report on proposed appropriations. The Select Board, or said committee when so appointed, shall after due consideration designate the amounts which in their opinion should be appropriated for the ensuing fiscal year, and shall accompany the same with such explanations and suggestions in relation thereto as they may deem desirable for the proper information of the inhabitants. The Select Board or, if such a committee has been appointed, the committee, shall print and distribute this document at or before the annual town meeting, and the town clerk shall transmit a copy thereof and of all town reports to the director of accounts.
Chapter 41: Section 61 Annual report
Section 61. The town accountant shall make an annual report, to be published as a town document, giving a statement of all receipts and expenditures of the town for the past financial year, including those of funds managed by trustees or commissioners for the town and showing also the amount of each specific appropriation, the expenditures therefrom, and the purpose for which money has been spent; and said statement shall be arranged in accordance with the classifications prescribed by the director of accounts. Such report shall contain a statement of any change in the amount of the town debt during the year and a list of indebtedness incurred and unpaid at the end of the financial year.