Letter to the Editor: 'Wenham Needs to Return to a Model That Works'

Harriet Davis writes in regard to the future of the Wenham Finance Department.

To the Editor:

The Wenham Finance Department is in disarray as our most recent Finance Director has returned to the private sector. Ever since Sarah Johnson left Wenham in 2010 to become finance director of the much larger department in Weston, Wenham has been drifting from pillar to post with a series of poorly thought out solutions which all ultimately failed. So what are our selectmen doing about it? 

Well, on Tuesday night, our interim town administrator came up with a woefully inadequate proposal — outsource the finance department to a part-time consulting firm manned essentially by one person who works full time for another municipality and who would work primarily off-site. Wise folk are shaking their heads — what is really going on here? Why did the well known accounting firms not even respond to our RFQ? Why did the RFQ cover all the functions in the finance department? Who would handle day-to-day finance issues? Who would act as deputy town administrator as finance directors typically do?

For years Wenham operated the finance department with three full-time staff — Finance Director-Treasurer/Collector, Assistant T/C and an accountant. The T/C and Accountant are required by Massachusetts General Law, and the functions must remain separate.

Wenham needs to return to a model that works and pay the going rate for these services. The selectmen should post the Finance Director-Treasurer/Collector position immediately and look for short term professional services to cover the office with the current accountant and part time treasurer/collector we currently have until the new finance director is hired.

Harriet Davis


Michelle Bailey December 26, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Let's start the new year by hiring a Finance Director and forming a search committee for a permanent Town Administrator. It has been nearly 2 years since our long-term finance director resigned and nearly a year since Jeff Chelgren announced his resignation. It is time for the Selectman to make a decision about the professional management of Wenham.
Michael S. Lucy December 29, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Securing interim support seems entirely appropriate -- the previous incumbent departed suddenly, and the FY 2014 Budget process is "in our face", so it seems sensible... not "woefully inadequate" -- to get interim professional help to address immediate needs at Town Hall, and of course move ahead deliberately with action to address Finance Dept personnel needs. Similarly, there's a timeframe already established regarding the interim Town Administrator post and filling the position longer term -- and I for one think that Mark Andrews has been doing an excellent job -- so as they say, "steady as she goes", let's get on with FY 2014 budget process, and I'm sure the rest of the personnel issues needing to be addressed will fall into place on a timely basis in the next few months.
Anne Sweeney December 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Unfortunately, it's the people who make the communities of Hamilton & Wenham. For some reason our country, states, cities and towns no longer have the intelligence of their parents to elect or appoint competent executives, once appointed, empower them to lead and execute a plan of action. You cannot lead when everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else to blame. As goes our nation, so does our local communities ?
Anne Sweeney December 29, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Hire Peter Hersey and pay him what he is worth as a banking executive to do the job. If he would accept this position, it's a no brainer. He has the wisdom, knows the town, an amicable personality, skill sets and leadership acumen, if everyone would get behind him !


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