, Salem, MA


April 18, 2013

An open letter to Wenham selectmen

To the editor:

An open letter to the Wenham Board of Selectmen:

After attending the April 6 Town Meeting, I am very concerned about our town’s government and budget.

I took more notes than I have in the prior five years. I would like to describe my concerns in the order in which they arose at the meeting:

1. Town administrator — It appears that there is a discrepancy in the number of hours in workweeks for our employees. Some employees are billing 52 hours, and some are billing 52.2. The discussion led me to believe this is simply an accounting error and will be corrected. This would not be much of an issue if it was the only accounting problem.

2. Reserve fund — There is currently only $5,500 in the reserve account. This seems to be a very low balance.

3. Assessors — The budget was short $779 due to an accounting issue.

4. Finance director — Outsourcing may save money for the town, but I am in favor of returning to a finance director. I am very concerned about the revenue items that are known to be overstated, the tax bills that have been found to be in error, delays in processing tax payments, questions about reconciling our books, and a feeling that we would be better served by a trusted individual in that position.

5. Mark Andrews’ comments:

The decision to outsource our finances was made under duress. This may be true, but have we looked for qualified candidates? There are many out-of-work finance professionals. I don’t believe we’d find a lack of candidates.

Bond rating still stable. Bond ratings look backward. The ramifications of today’s decisions could very easily impact that rating.

No audit will be done until we’re caught up. I’m not sure what we need to catch up on, but this is troubling.

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