Finance dept. merger to proceed

After the most recent council meeting, Plainville can now officially move forward with merging the financial departments of the Board of Education and the town.
The Board of Education approved the move in a majority vote, as did the council.
Despite Councilman Chris Wazorko’s questions regarding the study, and the concerns and opposition to the merger expressed by some speakers, the Republican councilors still felt it was necessary to move forward and take a vote.
“This has been ongoing since December,” Council Chair Kathy Pugliese said, adding that councilors had plenty of time to ask questions about the merger and the study.
One of the speakers, Arthur Screen, called the whole initiative a “vendet-

ta” and said it is being pushed through only because two councilors who had requested financial information from the Board of Education last year were not able to receive the information they wanted without paying for them.
“The Board of Education was forced to act on this,” Screen said.
The board voted on the matter recently and the Democratic members voiced many concerns about the time frame of voting and said they still had many questions that still were unanswered.
“It’s being rushed” and the public isn’t being provided the opportunity to ask BlumShapiro questions, Screen added.
Pugliese said the Superintendent of School Jeff Kitching requested that if the study were going to go forward that it be done by the time school started to make things smoother. Council Vice Chair Scott Saunders added that when information was requested of the board last year, the response was always “no.” The council and board sat through many work sessions to try and come to an agreement but it was never fully resolved. The Republicans ran last November on the platform of combining the financial departments to increase transparency and communication between the two boards.
Both Wazorko and Democratic Councilor Quinn Christopher voted against the motion to move forward. Christopher said she wanted to give the citizens more opportunities to have their questions answered.
Wazorko said he had many outstanding questions and that was why he was voting against the motion.
Saunders, Councilor Lee Toffey, and Councilor Dan Hurley all said they wanted to move forward with the consolidation efforts.
“It’s time we move forward on this and progress into modern times by consolidating things,” Hurley said.
Under the plan for the merger, the director of finance, who is currently the finance director of the town, would report to the town manager and the school superintendent. The director of business and operations, currently the director of finance and operations, would report to the director of finance, with “a dotted line relationship” to the superintendent for financial operations, and then would report directly to the superintendent for school district operations. The finance director would still continue to work on the town’s budget, and oversee human resources and payroll, and the business and operations director would work on the school budget, and oversee accounts payable, purchasing and grants. Also under the recommendations, all employees would be relocated to the same physical area. A creation of a single database for all of the town and school financial transactions and reporting has been recommended as well.
The merger is expected to save the town between $50,000 and $80,000 over five years for cost avoidance.
The motion approved in a 5-2 vote, with Republicans only in favor.
Recently, at a special Board of Education meeting, three Democratic members walked out of the meeting without voting, and the Republicans, five of them, voted in favor making the motion pass.
The study results are available on the town’s website at www. plainvillect.com.

 

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