WHITMAN – Voters may be asked, at a Town Meeting this fall, to change the way the town’s treasurer-collector is chosen for that job. The position is currently an elected one, but recent developments at Town Hall have convinced acting Town Administrator Frank Lynam that it is time to consider making it an appointed office.
Treasurer-Collector MaryBeth Carter has accepted a position as a treasurer-collector in Norwell, leaving her position in Whitman on Aug. 26.
“It is going to be difficult to replace her mid-year,” said acting Town Administrator Frank Lynam, noting that it is an elected position. “I had discussed with her in the past, and most recently two days ago, in the event that she agreed to stay on, that I believe the town needs to revisit that [elected] status and go to Town Meeting and the ballot with a request to reclassify the treasurer-collector as an appointed official … so the town is able to select best-qualified candidates.”
Carter’s departure was among the staffing needs and vacancies discussed by Lynam the board at it’s Tuesday, Aug. 16 meeting.
“The treasurer’s responsibility is very significant,” Lynam said. “It invests, at various times an aggregate of $30 million and it’s important that we know the person doing that work has the proper qualifications and credentials.”
While, he wasn’t presenting it as an item to be voted this week, Lynam said Carter has recommended that former Abington treasuer-collector Thomas Connolly be appointed on an interim basis and said he and at least one member of the board should meet with Connolly to discuss the responsibilities and working conditions of the position. Board member Shawn Kain agreed to attend that meeting.
“There shouldn’t be a learning curve in this type of position – just getting to know the town,” Lynam said.
Select Board member Dr. Carl Kowalski said the board was under the understanding that she would be able to do that in time for a vote Tuesday night. Lynam said he and Kain could solidify the details of Connolly’s appointment.
“[Connolly] is an Abington resident,” Lynam said. “None of the candidates were Whitman residents, which is what would be required for an election.”
Select Board Chair Randy LaMattina noted that the board does have the power to appoint a non-resident in an interim capacity.
“He’s also worked in Duxbury and a couple other municipalities since his retirement,” LaMattina said.
Connolly had been an elected treasurer-collector in Abington, but lost his race after that town held a financial reorganization which changed that post as an appointed one, Lynam said. He has since done work in Mashpee, Hull, Duxbury and Bridgewater, as well.
Other vacancies causing concern are that of an assistant IT director, a clerk in the assessor’s office, which will be posted, a recording secretary for the Conservation Commission, a recording secretary with the Finance Committee and a custodian.
There are also two positions on the Conservation Commission also need to be filled, as well as one vacancy on the Bylaw Study Committee, two on the Capital Committee and likely another on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We really have an issue with getting an assistant IT director in place,” Lynam said, noting an opportunity has come up in the last couple of weeks.”
Director of Technology Steve Burke at WHRSD as left that position and Lynam is interested in talking to him.
“The challenge, of course, is going to be salary,” he said. The median salary for the position is between $80,000 and $90,000 for a systems engineer-qualified person. He and IT Director Josh MacNeil have discussed engaging Burke as a contract employee until Oct. 1, when the salary can be met within the town’s appropriation.
“This is another issue that makes me really recommend that we have a fall Town Meeting so that we can address all of these needs in a public forum,” Lynam said.
Select Board member Justin Evans agreed, noting the board had recommended a $50,000 salary and Town Meeting approved $65,000.
Kain said that Burke is very qualified and “worth the risk” of contracting with him now, even if Town Meeting doesn’t support the change. The board voted to offer the contracted post.