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Mendon Selectmen Ponder Override to Fund Town Coordinator/Administrator Position

How to fund a Town Administrator/Coordinator's position was a topic of conversation during a January 22 Board of Selectmen's meeting. Mendon has been without a permanent Town Coordinator since Dale Pleau was laid off in 2011. Police and Fire Chief Ernie Horn has been acting as the interim Town Coordinator but stated he will not continue on in the position past May 1.

While the Board agreed that having the position filled was a top priority, funding it was another story. Early estimates show the salaried position would run approximately $90,000 to $100,000 annually.

When the mention of an override was brought up, the Board was still not certain how they felt about asking residents to raise their taxes to finance a town position. "The foundation is not solid," said Selectman Chair Mike Ammendolia referring to the town's finances with financial difficulties be compounded by finding the money for a Town Coordinator's salary.

However, Finance Committee Chair Rich Schofield, who was attended the meeting, believed funding the Town Coordinator's position would provide a good return on the investment. "The Town Coordinator is part of the foundation," he said. In the past, Schofield has said an override might be the only way for Mendon to hire a Town Coordinator.

However, some at the meeting voiced their skepticism at the town passing an override. "I don't think an override is going to be well received," said Horn, who added that his police department is in need of new vehicles and is short an officer.

Over the last several months, the Board has also been discussing a Financial Director/Chief Financial Officer's position, which would help to consolidate the municipal side of the budget among the various financial departments. The benefits of the position include improved financial reporting, better communication, cross training of personnel, and continuity of operations. The job would be an extension of a current position.

According to Horn, Town Accountant Claudia Cataldo was willing to take on the responsibilities until the start of the new fiscal year for no cost. However, to make certain the position was offered to all interested and qualified individuals, the Board agreed to post the job for 10 days before speaking to Cataldo about it.

However, even with a Financial Director in place in the near future, the Board still agreed that for the sake of the community, hiring a Town Coordinator was the priority. "The need for a Town Coordinator completely outweighs the need for a Chief Financial Officer," said Selectman Lawney Tinio. Nevertheless, Selectman Michael Goddard added, "There's value to both positions."


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