Thursday October 18, 2012

LENOX -- Wanted: A municipal finance director/accountant, a first for the town with a $23.4 million budget.

Following the recent resignation of town accountant Marge Pero, who took a post in mortgage lending at Lee Bank, supervision of the community's finances is being kicked up a few notches by seeking applicants for the new position.

The creation of the post has been advocated by Town Manager Gregory Federspiel in order to keep a tight rein on spending at a time when state aid may be level-funded or cut back and local property tax revenues are stagnant because of minimal new residential or commercial construction.

The advertisement for the new director specifies that the successful candidate will be "responsible for overseeing the town's financial functions (treasurer, collector, assessors)" while also serving as accountant.

The position requires a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, or at least five years of related accounting and financial management experience, preferably in municipal finance.

State certification as a governmental accountant will be required, and knowledge of the state's municipal finance law is recommended.

Federspiel, who is seeking letters of interest and resumes by Oct. 31, said the position will be funded through the town's budgeting cycle leading up to May's annual down meeting.


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Meanwhile, he said, "a few extra dollars" in the current budget combined with savings from the gap between Pero's departure and the municipal director's hiring will be utilized.

The listed salary range is $60,000 to $75,000 plus "excellent benefits."

Federspiel, who will recommend a candidate for discussion and approval by the Select Board in a public meeting after applications are reviewed and interviews are conducted, said the salary being offered is sufficiently competitive to attract a qualified candidate from Berkshire County or elsewhere in the state.

Though "it's not top of the line," he acknowledged, "I'm optimistic."

As an interim measure to keep the ledgers balanced and up to date, former town accountant Amy Lane is working a half-day per week at Town Hall. Lane is a "circuit rider" handling finances for several Berkshire communities.

Keeping the town's financial records ship-shape is a top priority after problems uncovered in the annual audit by Thomas Scanlon Associates were made public last March. Delays in reconciling accounts in the official town ledger during the 2010-11 fiscal year were flagged by the auditors.

No funds were missing, but the books were quickly brought up to date after Pero was hired to work with Federspiel.

At a previous town meeting, voters rejected a proposal to hire a finance director with authority over both Town Hall and the School Deoartment, which accounts for close to half of the town's current $23.4 million budget.

In another key hiring decision, Federspiel is sifting through four applications for the post of superintendent of Public Works, soon to be vacated by Jeffrey Vincent after 17 years. Vincent, who had been earning $78,000 a year, will transition to a new position overseeing capital projects for the town.

Federspiel, who declined to identify the applicants because of privacy concerns, will present potential candidates for approval by the Select Board at a forthcoming meeting to be scheduled.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto