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Selectmen Look at Treasurer, Collector Replacements

The Board of Selectmen plans to look at the question of how to best fill two financial positions that are opening up in the Town Hall. Town Treasurer Barbara Auger has resigned effective June 21 and Tax Collector Paula Fortin is retiring at the end of August.

Auger – who recently was passed over by selectmen for the Town Administrator's position and then won re-election to another three-year term in the April 30 Town Election – has been appointed Treasurer/Collector for the city of Taunton. Town Administrator Richard Villani told selectmen on June 3 that Town Counsel Gerald Moody had prepared a memo for the board detailing how to fill Auger's position, including the option of converting it from an elected to an appointed role.

Moody's memo said Town Meeting Members would need to take a majority vote to change the Treasurer's position to an appointed one, followed by the acceptance by Milford voters at an annual Town Election.

Chairman William Buckley said the position is "appointed by voters" and saw no need to make a change. "I think Milford has done a good job of putting qualified people in the position," the chairman said.

The vacancy creates "a wonderful opportunity to make the treasurer's position appointed," said Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis. The board should discuss that change at its June 17 meeting and – with Fortin retiring – there also may be a chance to combine positions and save money, he added. "Going forward, it really is in the best interests of the town to move this to an appointed position," Selectman Brian Murray said.

With Auger leaving this month, the board has the obligation to put someone in charge of the Treasurer's office on a temporary basis, Murray said. With DeBartolomeis, he voted to put Assistant Treasurer Kelly Capece in that role. Buckley voted against that move.

Auger appeared before selectmen earlier in the June 3 meeting and won their approval to re-finance $5,940,000 of long-term debt – originally borrowed in January, 2002 and March, 2003 – at a lower interest rate of 1.4195 percent, which she said would save the town $864,000 in interest costs. The new borrowing was for the remaining balances due on Godfrey Brook and O'Brien Brook, sewer, Senior Center and Memorial Hall construction projects and the Consigli land acquisition, she explained. The low bid was submitted by Eastern Bank Capital Markets, Auger said.

Moody's Investment Services gave the bond issuance an Aa2 rating and re-affirmed the town's Aa2 rating on its total $33 million in outstanding long-term debt, Auger said. "They reaffirmed our Aa2 rating, which is a very high rating for a municipal government," she said.

The bond rating is due to the town's "sizable tax base, above-average wealth levels, manageable debt burden and stable operating budget with satisfactory financial position," Auger explained. In order to get a higher rating, Moody's said the town would need to increase its cash reserves and increase growth in property taxes, she explained.

Buckley later boasted of that bond rating during a presentation by officials from Foxwoods Massachusetts, noting, "Our bond rating, we're very proud of it, and it happens to be better than most casinos."


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