Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

September 5, 2013

Debate lingers over future of town accountant post

(Continued)

Or, she said, Smith would tell Donna Walsh, the town finance director, who would pass the information on to selectmen.

More recently, she said, selectmen didn’t know that a police officer had been placed on paid administrative leave following a suspected drunken driving incident earlier this year. See related story, page 1.

“They didn’t tell us about the cop,” she said, adding that she had to read about it in last Friday’s edition of The Eagle-Tribune, the Andover Townsman’s sister newspaper.

Lyman said the accountant position is about more than just accounting. It requires someone with a knowledge of union contracts and how to interpret them. She said someone with a law degree would be ideal. The new accountant also needs to know how to get along with the leaders of other town departments, including the public works, police, fire and finance departments, the town library as well as the town clerk.

Kowalski, meanwhile, agreed that the accountant needs to have a direct line of communication with the Board of Selectmen. But he wants to incorporate the position into the Finance Department as assistant finance director.

“Now, it’s two separate organizations,” he said.

At the next selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Sept. 9, Lyman and Kowalski will make their case for change to the board and Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski.

“Buzz has authority under the charter to reorganize departments,” Kowalski said. “But the town accountant is a direct report of the Board of Selectmen. We need to make sure wherever that position is placed in the organization is good for us and for Buzz.”

As for the town accountant himself, Smith thinks things have been working fine.

“It’s their prerogative to go through this,” he said. “This position is unique in that I report to the Board of Selectmen. But I haven’t had problems in the way it’s been administered in the last 30-some-odd years. Could it be better? I don’t know.”

Smith added that he’s had an “excellent working relationship with Buzz and (former town manager) Ken Mahoney prior to him. This town is very good in that way.”

Lyman said she had hoped the issue would have been resolved by now and a job description could have been posted so that the town could advertise and hire someone before Smith leaves.

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