The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 30, 2004


Selectmen create new finance department

Although agreeing that the town's $18 million budget needs better oversight and interdepartmental coordination, the decision to centralize all finance functions under one Finance Director did not come easy. On Tuesday evening, at the end of the fourth long discussion, the Board of Selectmen resolved their concerns about personnel costs and balance of power, and unanimously voted to create a new finance department, effective July 1, 2004. (See "Selectmen resist finance reorganization," Mosquito January 23, 2004.)

Larry Barton (From the photo file of Rik Pierce)

A major obstacle for the Board was the concern that too much control would be centralized in the position of Finance Director/Treasurer/Tax Collector, which will be filled by current Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Barton. The issue was resolved with a motion to establish an audit committee which will oversee the policies and actions of the finance department. Barton, Selectmen Tony Allison, and former Finance Committee member Simon Platt were asked to develop recommendations for the stucture and responsibilities of the audit committee.

The second hurdle was the question, which precedes any decision this year, is this the right time to increase the town's operating expenses. Earlier estimates had placed the incremental cost of the reorganization at $35,000 or higher. After reviewing the proposed department structure, and separating out costs already in the budget, the estimate for one additional part-time position and some increased hours would be $18,000 anually. "This is a good [firm] number," said Selectmen Chair Tim Hult in a telephone interview the next day. Hult believes that better coordination between financial functions will lead to better timeliness, accuracy and improved compliance with state reporting requirements, and the stronger organization will pay for itself.

In the preceding week, the Selectmen had contacted seven similar towns to ask how they manage their finance functions. Although each town was different, they all spent more on finance administration than Carlisle.

Currently, Carlisle's financial affairs are split between the offices of the Town Accountant and the Treasurer/Tax Collector, both reporting to Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie.

Under the new structure, Finance Director/Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Barton will continue to report to the Town Administrator. Reporting to the Finance Director will be the Town Accountant and the Assistant Treasurer/TaxCollector. A new nine-hour-per-week position of Payroll Services and Assistant to Town Accountant was created.

The Selectmen empowered McKenzie to discuss filling the positions, including upgrading Acting Town Accountant Priscilla Dumka to the permanent Town Accountant position, and Assistant to the Treasurer/Tax Collector Linda Boucher to Assistant Treasuer/Tax Collector, a position which requires state certification and carries increased responsibilities.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito