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Wilmington Eyes Change in Budget Prep

November 19, 2018

WILMINGTON -- It has been decades since the town reviewed its financial structure. But with both the town accountant and assistant town accountant retiring, Wilmington is looking to possibly implement some changes in the future.

The Board of Selectmen recently watched a presentation from Anthony Torrisi and Frederick Kingsley, associates at the Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston.

Torrisi spoke about a revenue and expenditure modeling tool, which can be used to enhance the way the town makes financial decisions and assesses financial situations going forward.

Kingsley said the first order of business is finding replacements for the town accountant and assistant town accountant.

“That’s a pretty daunting challenge and I know that your financial structure was largely set up in your Town Manager Act, which was adopted in 1950,” Kingsley said. “So, it’s almost 70 years since this financial structure has been looked at in any kind of detailed way.”

After speaking with department heads and staff in the financial office, Kingsley presented a number of suggestions for the town. The first is implementing Munis, an enterprise resource planning software, which was funded at a recent Town Meeting. Kingsley recommended creating a new financial director/town accountant position, which would take on broader financial responsibilities, including overseeing the Treasurer/Collector’s and Assessor’s offices.

“It creates a focal point for finance, which you really don’t have now, and it reduces the number of direct reports to the town manager,” Kingsley said, adding that about 16 department heads report to Town Manager Jeff Hull for financial business.

Hull is recommending the board vote on a policy change to change the position to financial director/town accountant. Another route the town can go is to place an article on the Town Meeting warrant looking to amend the Town Manager Act to include this new position.

Selectman Mike McCoy asked whether this new position would mean Hull no longer prepares the town budget, but Kingsley said that is not the case. Rather, the person who is the financial director/town accountant would be Hull’s key point person on finance, but the town budget would still fall under the town manager’s purview.

Despite looking to improve the town’s financial structure, members of the Board of Selectmen did commend Town Accountant Michael Morris for his exceptional work over the years. He is retiring in July.

Hull said he would like the board to take a vote on making that policy change, potentially at its Nov. 26 meeting. Several selectmen said they want the Finance Committee to have an opportunity to express their thoughts on the topic.

“The decision I think is important to be made so that as the position gets advertised we can be clear on what it is that the town is seeking here,” Hull said.

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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