Brandon loses key employee over $22K check

BRANDON — Brandon Public Works Director Daryl Burlett resigned effective Aug. 22.

The departure comes less than a month after a town payment to Burlett — in the amount of $22,011 — came under scrutiny at the July 29 selectboard meeting.

The issue was not made widely known until Brandon resident Charles Powell spoke up during public comment period of Monday’s selectboard meeting.

“I’ve heard from several sources that a town employee who was instrumental to the Route 7 project has resigned after being paid $20,000 for services he has not rendered,” Powell read from a prepared statement.

He asked the selectboard to address the issue in open session at the Aug. 26 meeting.

“These rumors either need to be put to rest, or, if they’re true, the gravity of the situation is appropriate for open session since it involves townspeople’s money and the town itself,” Powell said.

Selectboard Chair Seth Hopkins confirmed that Burlett had resigned and that the board was looking into the matter.

“I think the people deserve to know,” Powell continued. “I’m a pitbull when I get on something like this.”

Hopkins reiterated that the board was aware of the situation and was taking appropriate steps.

“We will inform everyone at the proper time when there is a resolution,” he said.

The next day, Aug. 27, Brandon Town Manager Dave Atherton issued a press release announcing Burlett’s Aug. 22 resignation.

“The town has met all of its legal obligations to Mr. Burlett,” it said.

“The Town appreciates all the progress resulting from Mr. Burlett’s hard work while he served as Brandon’s public works director,” the release continued. “The Selectboard, Town Manager, and Mr. Burlett are aware of an improperly authorized payment of $22,011 to Mr. Burlett and are taking appropriate steps under the counsel of the town attorney to recover these funds for the Town.”

The payment in question appeared as a line item for “MPM mileage to June of 2019” listed for Burlett in the amount of $22,011.

This appears to be a mileage reimbursement, though no record of Burlett receiving previous mileage reimbursements are listed in town warrants dating back through 2017.

It was not an accounting error, Atherton said. The check was written without Atherton’s approval for an “amount (that) is higher than I can approve.”

Atherton said it was too soon to predict how the situation might be resolved, but he indicated that the possibility of criminal charges may depend on whether or not Burlett pays back the money.

The Reporter reached out Burlett for comment but did not hear back from him before the press deadline.

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