Subcommittee talks finance

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Finance Sub Committee
L-R, Joann Cathcart, Adam Scanlon, and Darius Gregory discuss a proposed bylaw regarding the Finance Committee at a meeting of the Bylaw Subcommittee on Wednesday, July 17. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

Outlines makeup of new committee, funding transfers 

The Bylaw Subcommittee held discussions on the Finance Committee, with talk centered on how many members there should be.

A bylaw amendment for the new committee was submitted by Town Councilor Justin Pare and based on a similar one used by the Town of Amherst. It calls for a committee of seven members, four of which would be from the Town Council. Among their duties would be holding hearings for any budget-related matters and making recommendations to the Town Council.

“I felt it would give the recommendations more weight with the rest of the Town Council,” said Pare at the July 17 meeting, when questioned on why four members would need to be from the council.

The subcommittee—comprised of Town Councilors Jo Ann Cathcart, Adam Scanlon, and Darius Gregory—felt seven may be too many, and referenced other committees with a five-member roster. Town Administrator Michael Gallagher cautioned against Town Council members being part of too many other committees. Currently, the councilors serve on finance, bylaw, and town manager search subcommittees.

“You may burn yourself out,” he said.

A final decision on the bylaw is pending and discussion will continue at a future meeting. On a related note, the subcommittee also reviewed the process of budget transfers. Normally among the duties of Town Meeting, the council is now the forum for these decisions. The Town Manager can also make these transfers. Gallagher said a transfer of $100,000 would not be appropriate to make through the town manager’s office, and that limits of $5,000-$10,000 are usually set through the council.  

The town manager would hold those departments accountable for how they do their budgets,” said Gallagher. 

Other subcommittee reports 

Following the conclusion of the Bylaw Subcommittee’s meeting, the Finance Subcommittee met briefly. The members approved sending two measures to the Town Council with a recommendation for favorable action. This subcommittee is comprised of Cathcart, Pare, and fellow Councilman Kathleen Prescott.  

The first measure is for a $35,000 payment for services at the town beaches provided by the Hockamock YMCA. This would come from the Conservation Commission’s seasonal salary account. This includes monitoring the beaches and gates and posting trained lifeguards. Gallagher added that this service saved the town some money.   

The second measure is for $45,000 payment for the Town Auditor, which must be dealt with within 30 days after the Town Election. For the last three years the town has worked with the firm of Roselli, Clark & Associates of Woburn. Cathcart, who has worked extensively for the town, said she was part of the RFP process that led to the hiring of the firm, and that they had done well. Should the council wish, a new search process can be held in fiscal year 2020.