SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 18, 2013

New finance board chairman named in Wenham

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — WENHAM — Michael Lucy has been named the new chairman of the Finance and Advisory Committee after the abrupt resignation of the previous chairwoman, Catherine Harrison.

Harrison said she “lost confidence” in the process taken to vet and develop the town’s budget.

Lucy, 65, of Wallace Drive, said the board reorganized Thursday, March 7, electing him chairman, Hilliard Ebling vice chairman and Rick Quinn secretary.

Lucy has lived in town on and off since 1990. He rejoined the committee about a year ago and previously served two three-year terms on the committee.

He said the budget process was a little more challenging this year with the resignation of Finance Director Paula Bartlett, who left in December, and the hiring of Baystate Municipal Services Group Inc. to get through the budget season.

“Otherwise, the budget process was smooth,” Lucy said. “It was long, but we got it done.”

At the committee’s meeting, selectmen Chairwoman Molly Martin asked each member their thoughts on the process after Harrison’s resignation.

“Without exception, all five of us indicated we had full confidence in the budget process,” Lucy said. “It was an accurate and complete vetting of the budget.”

The board unanimously voted to approve next year’s $15 million overall budget, about a 2.5 percent increase over this year’s budget, which will be presented at Town Meeting on April 6.

Lucy said a new member will be appointed to the committee before the next budget cycle.

Harrison was hardworking, and her efforts are appreciated by the committee, Lucy said.

“At Town Hall right now, there’s a lack of historical knowledge of the budgets,” Harrison previously said. “... The (budget) process was a bit too loose. It didn’t have enough discipline in it (for me) to have full confidence in the final budget that came out.”

Her term would have ended next year.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.