Finance director hiring underway in Rockingham

BELLOWS FALLS — The hiring process for a new finance director created some tension at Tuesday's village Board of Trustees meeting.

Municipal Manager Shane O'Keefe has received a few applications for the finance director position for Rockingham and Bellows Falls, and has compiled a small team to help him make the selection. One of the people assisting O'Keefe is trustee Steve Adams.

Trustee Deborah Wright demanded to know why the trustee board wasn't allowed to appoint a committee to assist O'Keefe.

The village's attorney, Ray Massucco, told Wright that all hiring decisions are the manager's to make under a municipal government structure.

"If a committee is formed, the board of trustees has no ability to express their opinion?" Wright asked.

Massucco said that trustees certainly could express their opinions, but that the decision is the manager's.

Wright was astonished that O'Keefe hadn't at least let the board know he was appointing Adams to assist him.

Trustee James McAuliffe was also concerned about the process.

"I asked to be in the search committee because I believe I bring a level of expertise," said McAuliffe, who has a reputation for being fiscally conservative and previously serve on the Bellows Falls Union High School Board.

"Why didn't you choose Mr. McAuliffe?" Wright asked O'Keefe. She stated that McAuliffe has the most experience and asked Adams if he agreed, Adams said he did.

"I don't need to have a discussion in a public meeting about my decision," O'Keefe said.

McAuliffe and O'Keefe came across another disagreement when discussing compensatory time for village staff. Both O'Keefe and Executive Assistant Kerry Bennett took comp time last month.

Bennett and O'Keefe said the time was necessary in order to get all their work done. McAuliffe said he didn't believe it. He understood why O'Keefe would need comp time, but not why Bennett would.

"I don't see what it is about the job that you couldn't get done in 45 hours a week," McAuliffe said."I just want you to know, I don't buy it."

In other business:

- O'Keefe drafted a fiscal year 2018 budget that he said broke even. General government was cut by $8,060, the fire department by $150,550 and the police department by $91,980. The trustees agreed that they would like to see some more numbers checked before approving the final budget, but agreed that the budget was a good framework.

- The trustees will be looking into changing police shifts from 10 hours to 8 hours. This would mean officers would work five days a week rather than four. It also will reduce times when three or four officers are on duty. O'Keefe believes the move will save the village money.

Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.


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