Greg Rigby, a Finance Committee member and financial planner known for his tough questions on financial issues, has been dropped from the committee in favor of a new appointment still to be made by Andover's town moderator.
Rigby said he respected Town Moderator Sheila Doherty's decision to appoint someone else in his place, though he wished he could stay.
"For the most part, there's not anybody on there who's a quantitative analyst, who can look at the numbers and look at the investments and look at how things work from a financial piont of view, to look at the intricities on how this affects the town in the long run," said Rigby.
Doherty said, "the talent that we have on the committee is exceptional," and said she strives to have a diverse group.
"Greg was appointed to fill a term [the resignation of Stephen Stapinski in 2010] that ended on June 30. It was an interim term that he was appointed to," said Doherty. "It was just a 'thank you very much for doing that.' There are several qualified candidates I'm looking at."
In an email to Rigby explaining her decision, Doherty said, "There are several equally or better qualified individuals that I have either approached or have approached me, and I am going to move in that direction." She said she has not made a decision yet, but expects to within the next month.
Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski declined to comment on Rigby's non-reappointment, saying the decision was Doherty's, as Finance Committee members "serve at her pleasure."
"He was a conservative voice that had a message and a point of view that was valuable," said Stapczynski.
Rigby believes his tendency to ask pointed, hard questions on financial issues is what led to the decision to not reappoint him. Rigby mentioned the well over $200 million in unfunded post-employment benefit and pension liabilities that he says the town is not addressing as much as it should be. Throughout the recent budget process, Rigby regularly called for the town to take a harder look at the liabilities before considering multi-million-dollar projects.
"They've continued to pay the minimum amount they need to pay to stay within compliance," said Rigby. "When you're looking at a $250 million debt, a few hundred thousand dollars a year doesn't even begin to make a difference in what you can do each year."
There was not an effort to let Rigby go because of his tendency to ask tough questions, according to Stapczynski.
"They all ask tough questions. They all ask pointed questions. That's their role, to be advisors for Town Meeting," said Stapczynski. "No one asks tougher questions than Joanne Marden, so he's not the first person to be on the committee with tough questions."
Doherty said other officials did not influence her.
"Oh my heavens, no. I like to think I don't work in a vacuum, but there was no campaign to get [Rigby] off the committee," she said.
Jon Stumpf, Finance Committee chairman, also said he knew of no effort to remove Rigby from the board. When asked for his thoughts on Doherty's decision to appoint someone else, Stumpf said the committee members "report at the pleasure of the moderator. The moderator chose not to reappoint Mr. Rigby."
Rigby said he added a long-term focus to the Finance Committee, one that tried to place proposed project debt among the debt service schedule that the town uses to pay off existing debt over the years.
"The focus will no doubt go back to a one-, maybe two-year outlook. You can't run a company that way; you certainly can't run a town that way," said Rigby. "I'm not mad that I'm not on the Finance Committee. I'm concerned for Andover that we won't have somebody asking the hard questions. You've got to get the hard questions in front of everybody, because that's how you're going to get the solutions."
• • •
For feedback or inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since he was appointed to the Finance Committee in February 2011, Greg Rigby has frequently voiced his concern over a number of elements of town finances, he said. These include:
Over $200 million in unfunded liabilities relating to post-employment benefits and pensions;
The interest rate on Andover's "accrued compensation" account, which would pay employees for unused vacation and sick days;
How the town "runs internally on a 12-month horizon," considering large capital projects on a year-by-year basis;
How town financial planning unintentionally burdens taxpayers years down the road, for which "there is no penalty... but there should be."