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Local News

March 6, 2013

Chairwoman of finance board in Wenham resigns

WENHAM — Catherine Harrison, chairwoman of Wenham’s Finance and Advisory Committee, resigned this week, saying she has “lost confidence” in the process taken to vet and develop the town’s budget.

With Town Meeting set for April 6, Wenham is at the tail end of its annual budget process.

“At Town Hall right now, there’s a lack of historical knowledge of the budgets,” Harrison said yesterday. “... 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.”

Harrison read a statement announcing that she would resign at the committee’s meeting Monday evening (see box).

Harrison was appointed to a finance committee term that would have ended next year. Her resignation leaves the board with five members.

The Finance and Advisory Committee will discuss reorganization of the board at a meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 138 Main St.

Interim Town Manager Mark Andrews said yesterday that Harrison “has done yeoman’s work for the town and (finance) committee.”

Harrison is no stranger to the budget process. She has been on the finance committee for three years and served on the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee from 1995 to 2010.

This year in particular, Harrison said she took issue with the budget-vetting process. Her decision to resign was not political, she said, but “a personal one based on my ethics and beliefs.”

“The finance committee’s role is to be independent checks and balances,” Harrison said. “The budget that goes to Town Meeting is the finance committee’s budget, and I take that very seriously.”

“... I believe that a group has to establish the way they want to operate and move forward, and agree to a process on how things are going to be done and move forward in that context.”

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