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April 5, 2013

Candidates spar over finance director

Wenham: Selectman says department is well-managed; challenger says it's in 'disarray'

(Continued)

“We are purchasing the services for what we need and when we need it,” she said.

In fact, using a consulting firm could become a permanent solution, she said, noting that is has received support from both selectmen and the Finance Committee.

“The finance department is not in disarray,” Martins said. “That is an assessment being made on the basis of sound bites and innuendo.”

Wilhelm disagreed, saying he’d observed a huge stack of unopened mail in the office recently and is hearing about errors involving taxes.

But Martins said the town has hired additional staff to support the office, and the consultants and town administrator will be available for further support.

As for Martins’ priorities, she lists four: maintaining the character of the town, providing excellent municipal services at the lowest cost, providing a quality education for children and keeping taxes down.

“My goal is providing the quality of services that people have come to expect and enjoy and providing a reasonable tax rate,” she said. “The solution is in our ability to find efficiencies through collaboration and innovation.”

Wilhelm said living in town for 39 years and his experience on the Finance Committee sets him apart as a candidate. He also said there has been a deteriorating relationship with Hamilton that needs to be repaired. He said it was a big mistake for Wenham to back out of the shared emergency dispatch center, which left Hamilton to figure out how to pay for it on their own.

He noted that Hamilton recently decided to opt out of a shared Council on Aging director.

“Both towns should have stayed or both towns should have gone,” he said. “We have joint schools, and other services need to get along and cooperate.”

Martins said the two towns are collaborating well. She said Hamilton decided to hire a full-time Council on Aging director, instead of the shared part-time director.

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