After much debate during night one of Spring Annual Town Meeting Tuesday, members voted 98-53 in favor of a consolidation of the offices of the town collector/treasurer, assessors and comptroller into one Finance Department.
Under the approved Article One, the officials will report to the town administrator's office through the deputy town administrator/finance director.
According to Town Administrator Martha White, a recent study determined that the lack of a central organizational structure of the several finance offices made communication and collaboration between the bodies difficult. Although the consolidation will cost the town money, White said the move will improve town functions and offer better protection of taxpayer money.
Some Town Meeting members expressed concerns about whether the Town could reinterpret the meaning noted in the Town Charter on the subject. White said that the article was reviewed by counsel and found to be legal and a "sound and, in fact, advisable recommendation." When asked, White said the deputy town administrator would not be overburdened by the revised job description, in her opinion.
An earlier survey of 11 nearby towns showed that most have some form level of consolidation in their town finance departments with a town administrator or town manager at the head, with an assistant town manager also taking on the tasks of finance director.
A copy of the town administrator's study is available on the Town's website.