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Outside Company Eyed to Take Helm of Wenham Finance Dept.

Wenham town leaders will continue to get details from a consultant that was the only company to submit a quote to take over Finance Department through the end of the fiscal year.

Wenham town leaders will continue to get more details from an outside finance service company before making a decision about whether to have the company fill the Finance Director job through the end of the fiscal year.

Tuesday was Finance Director Paula Bartlett’s last day on the job. The position is open for the third time in as many years and Interim Town Administrator Mark Andrews sought bids from private firm to fill the position through the end of the fiscal year.

“We are at a peak period in the budgetary process,” Andrews said, explaining the position's importance.

While he contacted six companies, only one quote was submitted – 15 hours of work at Wenham Town Hall and 40 hours off site and the “ability to interact 24-7” for $25,000 through Aug. 15.

Selectmen want more details before making a decision about whether the company, Baystate Municipal Services Group, should get the job.

Andrews said the company would be expected to work on developing the fiscal 2014 budget and meet weekly with Andrews.

“I’m very uncomfortable with moving forward with it this evening,” Selectman Ken Whittaker said on Tuesday, noting he would have liked to receive quotes from more than one firm, or at least hear back from some other firms acknowledging they were not submitting quotes. “I want to have the opportunity to review this in more detail.”

Selectman Patrick Wilson said he also wants to make sure he has a greater “comfort level” with the proposal from Baystate. But he also noted the town has an “acute need” to fill the position since development of the fiscal 2014 budget is ongoing and tax bills need to go out.

“This proposal will meet those” needs, he said.

The last time the position was open, Hamilton and Wenham undertook an examination of merging the finance departments of both towns. Since Bartlett announced she is leaving, there has not been any similar discussion of a merger of the finance departments.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Molly Martins, said that she wants to better understand the expectations for the firm and make sure it is clear what the “deliverables” will be from the company. Selectmen will come back together after Christmas to make a final decision.

“I’m very mindful of the timeframe” Martins said.

The board plans to meet again on Dec. 27.

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