LENOX -- Town leaders have filled two key positions by approving what they described as highly qualified candidates to handle local finances and legal issues.
The Selectmen unanimously ratified Town Manager Gregory Federspiel's appointment of Charles Brown, former auditor at the Center for EcoTechnology in Pittsfield, as the new town accountant, starting Jan. 2. He succeeds Marge Pero, who resigned to return to the mortgage-banking field where she had spent most of her career.
Select Board Chairman Kenneth Fowler described Brown as a "very qualified candidate who brings to this position a CPA license which would work into an overall plan for a financial restructuring of Town Hall."
"We'd be doing a disservice to our taxpayers to not get the best, most-qualified person we can in this position to help with overall financial planning and accounting for the town," Fowler emphasized, responding to citizen queries about why the town was filling the position with a slightly increased salary. Brown is declining some benefits, which will hold the overall cost of the slot to current levels, or with slight savings.
Selectman David Roche, endorsing Brown's selection, said, "I don't want us to find ourselves in the same position we were in a year ago, when we had our audit and found out we were behind the eight-ball. Hopefully, we're up to snuff and this individual can keep us on that track.
Federspiel confirmed that the books are in order and pointed out that Brown was a municipal auditor in the 1990s and audited the town during that period.
"He'll be a good fit for the staff here," the town manager said. "One of the highest marks he gets is the way he interacts with people. He treats people with a lot of respect and makes sure that things are done properly. That's a nice combination."
"We'll be really fortunate to have somebody in this position with the credentials Mr. Brown has," said Selectman Channing Gibson. "He has advanced degrees that are really impressive, so I think it's a great thing. I wouldn't want the town to take anything less than the best we can get, and I think this candidate is very strong."
The Select Board also voted unanimously to appoint Kopelman and Paige, P.C., as the new town counsel as of Jan. 1, succeeding Frederica McCarthy.
The municipal law firm, representing more than one-third of the state's 351 cities and towns, is based in Boston but has a satellite office in Lenox. Kopelman and Paige is already representing the town in the lawsuit filed by 20 local citizens over the Kennedy Park Belvedere.
The law firm's local office on Walker Street is directed by attorney Janet Hetherwick Pumphrey, former assistant city solicitor in Pittsfield and a specialist in municipal issues.
To reach Clarence Fanto:
email@example.com or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.