Despite concerns from some members of the Town Council, the town manager will now have fiduciary oversight over town finances.
The town council approved an ordinance 6-2 vote to give the responsibility to the town manager at its July 26 meeting.
Council members Denise Keane and Meredith Lindsey voted against the ordinance. Council member Antonia Moran did not attend the meeting.
Town Attorney Dennis O’Brien said the ordinance is the result of a recommendation from a charter review committee a few years ago.
O’Brien said he was a probate judge for 12 years and he believes the town manager is the best person to be responsible for a town’s fiduciary responsibilities.
“A town manager already has substantial responsibility of the finances,” he said, and added that the council has “extraordinary power” to judge if a town manager is fulfilling this responsibility.
“There’s all kinds of safeguards, all kinds of guidelines for the town manager to follow,” O’Brien said.
But Keane, who was on the charter review committee, said the intent of the charter review committee’s recommendation was to give the responsibility to the council, not the town manager.
Keane, said the committee intended for the council to understand “its powerful role” and retain final oversight.
She suggested the council either change the wording of the ordinance, specifically the word “fiduciary,” or add a clause reiterating the council’s power to oversee the town manager.
But Council member Peter Kochenburger said “fiduciary” can have many meanings, and some of the town’s financial tasks need to be handled by someone who is bonded. He noted that the town manager is bonded, but the council members are not.
Others reiterated the town charter already specifies that the council has financial oversight of the town manager.
“Ultimately, we do have the authority – we already have it,” said Mayor Betsy Paterson.
Posted Aug. 7, 2010