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Treasurer's office transition: From tradition to experiment to appointment

Dean CarmanDean Carman

marshall hartmanMarshall-Hartman

Select Board votes to OK successor

UPDATED, Oct. 28: Arlington's town-treasurer "experiment" is nearing an end, and Dean E. Carman, who is in the center of it, says all has worked out for the best.

Treasurers offices nearly everywhere operate with an expected attention to regularity and official procedure. The public needs assurance that its tax money is handled with care.

What began 20 months ago as a test to see whether a part-timer could manage the full-time office has led to his own assessment about that tenure:

"When I ran for Treasurer & Collector, I campaigned on a platform of professionalizing the office and implementing the best practices outlined in the January 2012 DOR review of the town's financial structure," Carman recently told YourArlington. "Since being elected in April 2017, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with the town's outstanding professional staff on many initiatives that have moved Arlington forward and prepared it for future success.

quote                 ANALYSIS

"I'm most proud of the improved coordination of our finance departments." He cited the 2012 state Department of Revenue report, which noted that 'cooperation [between financial departments] is voluntary and none of these officials can be held truly accountable.'"

The transition to a newly appointed treasurer -- from an elected one -- as well as to a coordinated finance department is due to move forward Wednesday, Sept. 12, when the Select Board voted to approve the one candidate for the job, Phyllis Marshall-Hartman, who most recently served in Belmont.

Background about search

Caryn Malloy, town personnel director, said two candidates were interviewed in a second round in August. Advertisements for the position drew 31 candidates, and eight were interviewed in the first round.

Carman was elected head of the treasurer's office in April 2017. He ran for the office after Stephen Gilligan announced his retirement that January. At the time, he was vice president and comptroller of Bertucci's, a position he held for nine years. Since last April, he has been vice president finance at PR Management Corp., a franchisee of Panera Bread.

He entered the job held since 1972 by just two full-timers -- Gilligan (since 2006) and before that, John Bilafer. The longtime treasurer died in July

Last May 30, in a memo to town officials, Carman announced his resignation. He has remained on the job, as the resignation is to take effect at "the completion of a successful hiring and onboarding of a professional Treasurer & Collector of Taxes."

Dunn offers comment

So how has this experiment gone? Dan Dunn, chairman of the Select Board, commented Sept. 3: "I'm very pleased with the evaluations and feedback so far on the coordinated finance department.

"The professionals in the department have told us about how much productive and easier it is with the improved communication and coordination. This has been a multiyear process with lots of steps. This year has been a particularly big one.

"The treasurer and comptroller are still technically independent, but functionally we're they're already a part of the team while the bylaw changes are implemented.

"I don't think we're done yet, either. I would like to evaluate further improvements to the coordinated finance department, including identifying which parts of the school finance department can be integrated."

Here are Carman's further comments about reflecting his view of his tenure:

"My first act as treasurer was to sign a memorandum of understanding with the town manager's office, unanimously approved by the Select Board, making the professional deputy treasurer the day-to-day department head and directly accountable to the town manager. This change allowed us to informally begin the process of creating a Finance Department since cooperation was now mandatory.

2018 arrticles, successes

"To formalize this improved structure of government, I submitted two articles to the 2018 Town Meeting -- Article 18, Appointment of Comptroller and Article 19, Municipal Finance Department. Both articles received unanimous support from the Select Board, overwhelming support from the Finance Committee and passed at Town Meeting by large margins

"I've heard consistent feedback from town officials and volunteer committees that the new structure has made the flow of work more efficient and is a welcome change.

"During my time as treasurer, the town has continued on the path of modernizing its tax-collection software and providing better payment options for residents.

"Led by our excellent IT department, the town successfully launched the MUNIS tax-collection module for real estate and excise taxes, including an improved front-end experience.

"With the unanimous support of the Select Board, the town now offers paperless billing for real estate taxes as well as automatic bill pay.

"Further, the town recently eliminated the 25-cent fee associate with ACH payments. [ACH payments are electronic payments that are created when the customer gives an originating institution, corporation or other customer authorization to debit directly from the customer's checking or saving account for the purpose of bill payment.]

"These initiatives will continue after I leave office as the town's IT department is leading modernization efforts for parking ticket payment, water and sewer payment, and department fees paid outside the treasurer's office.

"Last but not least, we have remained frugal in the treasurer's office. We review all line items in the budget and seek cost reductions. Our FY2019 department budgets was less than the prior year: Treasurer decreased by $17,000 (-2.47%), postage was flat and parking decreased by $10,000 (-12.16%). With a consolidated finance department, the opportunity to renegotiate certain contracts upcoming and the expansion of paperless billing, we will see long-term cost improvement in these department budgets."

Background

Marshall brings more than 30y years of public administration experience to Arlington, an Oct. 15 town news release says. She has served as the assistant town administrator for the Town of Belmont, including a 10-month stint as its interim town administrator.

She has served as the treasurer-collector in Watertown, and is a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Managers Association and International City/County Management Association.

She holds bachelor of arts degree from Baker University, Kansas, and a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas.

What the job ad says

Here's what the advertisement for the appointed position (from June 13 to Aug. 13, 2018) says, provided by Molloy:

TREASURER & COLLECTOR

Salary/pay rate: Full time, salary range, commensurate with qualifications and experience, $94,592 to $136,690

Professional administrative and supervisory work in the daily administration and management of the Town Treasurer's office, including the custody, disbursement, investment and borrowing of monies, preparation of fiscal reports, collection of taxes and other revenues; all other related work, as required.

Supervision: Works under the general direction of the Finance Director, in strict accordance with provisions of the Massachusetts General Laws and the rules and regulations of the Department of Revenue. Performs a variety of responsible functions within the guidelines established by statute and professional standards; questions of policy or legal interpretation are reviewed with the Finance Director.

Performs highly responsible functions of a complex nature which require considerable use of independent judgment and initiative in the planning, administration and execution of the department's services, in the interpretation and application of laws, regulations and procedures, and in the direction of personnel.

Supervisory responsibilities: Supervises up to ten employees; nine full-time, one part-time. Supervisory activities include establishing work procedures and performance standards, the evaluation of employees, providing training and development, assigning and reviewing work and disciplining employees.

Work environment: Work is performed under typical office conditions; work environment is moderately quiet. Work is generally performed during normal business hours, but additional hours are often required to meet deadlines; the workload is subject to cyclical fluctuations. The employee is required to attend evening meetings and to work outside of the normal business hours.

The employee operates standard office equipment.

The employee has ongoing contact with the public, town and school departments, outside organizations, such as the Department of Revenue, vendors, boards and committees; Contacts are in person, on the telephone and through written communication. The incumbent is required to carry a town issued cell phone and be available to contacts outside of normal business hours. The position requires excellent public relations skills, persuasiveness and resourcefulness.

The employee has access to department-related confidential information, including personnel files, bid documents, and financial information about taxpayers.

Errors in administration and judgment could significantly affect the municipality's ability to deliver services and could have financial and legal repercussions.

Essential duties, responsibilities: The essential functions or duties listed below are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment to the position.

Plan, direct, evaluate and exercise general supervision over the work of the treasurer's office to include management of tax collection; water and sewer bill collection; Town funds including trust funds and special revenue funds; Town tax title accounts and foreclosed properties; tax account affected by Bankruptcy Court decisions; and short and long-term borrowing including the determination of debt structure, timing of debt issuance, debt maturities etc,

Oversees preparation of data and all necessary documentation for loan obligations and purchases; responsible for the deposit of funds in banking institutions; maintains the custody of all monies received in the town treasury; maintains the system of accounting for all receipts and payments on behalf of the town; ensures that all required reports and certificates are completed and filed in a timely fashion.

Manages the town's cash by making determinations that all previous day transactions are properly completed; analyzes projected expenditures and revenues, investments, cash position and related financial information; examines current interest rates; evaluates various investment or borrowing options and makes recommendations to the town treasurer.

Schedules all preparatory work in connection with the annual audit of the town's books and records in order to ensure prompt and efficient collection of data for the auditors.

With the assistance of the deputy treasurer, supervises and oversees the work of departmental staff, including but not limited to allocating workload, writing performance reviews, approving vacation requests and handling day to day personnel matters that arise.

Reviews office policies and procedures and makes recommendations for revisions consistent with Town policies; provides guidance to the staff in the completion of assignments.

Prepares the department budget and makes recommendations to the Town Manager and Finance
Committee.

Coordinates all activities associated with the borrowing of funds; including making presentations, preparing brochures, providing historical and current financial data, attending meetings, and payment of bills; responsible for obtaining approval from the Emergency Finance Board.

Prepares and reviews Requests For Proposals and Request For Information for banking and other services.

Assists the School Department by providing financial information pertaining to state reimbursements. Assists the Finance Director in the estimation analysis and monitoring of Town's operating revenue budget.

The employee serves as a member of various Boards, Committees and Commissions as needed.

Ensures that the day to day operation, collection, reporting and maintenance of the parking meter infrastructure is maintained.

As appointed by the Select Board, the incumbent serves as the town's parking clerk. Reviews parking ticket appeals in writing or in-person depending on the petitioners request. Answers periodic questions from motorists. Coordinates with the Select Board's office on parking matters.

Performs similar or related work as required, or as situation dictates.

Recommended minimum qualifications

Education, experience: Bachelor's degree; seven to 10 years of progressively responsible finance experience, Master's Degree and municipal experience preferred; or an equivalent combination of education and expo

Other requirements: Certified treasurer/collector through the Massachusetts Treasurer/Collector's Association or ability to obtain within two years of employment.

Knowledge, ability and skill: Knowledge of principles of municipal revenue collection and taxation, principles governing the marketing and sale of long-term and short-term investments, modern office procedures, methods, record keeping and computer equipment, up-to-date security practices, research and reporting methods and techniques, municipal personnel policies and procedures, pertinent federal, state and local laws, codes and regulations, principles and practices of statistical analysis and research.

Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with town officials,employees, members of the banking community, governmental representatives, and the general public, to prepare accurate financial reports and records, to communicate effectively in written and oral form, to lead and supervise departmental staff and to develop policies and procedures for the department's operations, to work independently, to maintain confidentiality, interpret and apply federal, state and local policies, procedures, laws and regulations.

Excellent planning, organizational, communication, analytical, decision-making, and supervisory skills. Excellent project management and technological skills in a variety of software including Microsoft Office and MUNIS preferred. Executive level writing and presentation skills.

Physical requirements: Minimal physical effort is required to perform duties. The employee is frequently required to sit for extended periods, speak, hear and use hands to operate equipment. Vision requirements include the ability to read routine and complex documents and view a computer monitor. Mental capacity to analyze date, make sound decisions and use good judgment.

This job description does not constitute an employment agreement between the employer and employee, and is subject to change by the employer, as the needs of the employer and requirements of the job change. 


 News stories

April 4, 2017: Carman explains why initial treasurer plans changed
March 26, 2017: Carman sketches plan to reshape town treasurer's office
March 25, 2017: No opposition? No matter -- candidates explain where they stand
Jan. 11, 2017: Fincom member eyes treasurer seat, new role for office
Jan. 10, 2017: After treasurer announces retirement, town officials look ahead

This news summary was published Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, and updated Sept. 13, to add a photo, and Oct. 28, to add background.

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