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Carman sketches plan to reshape town treasurer's office

Dean CarmanDean Carman

Dean Carman, who seeks to be the next treasurer, plans to redefine how the office is managed in an unprecedented way for Arlington, yet at Candidates' Night, he was not asked how he would do that. Carman is the full-time controller for Bertucci's and plans to remain in that position while serving as treasurer.

So YourArlington asked the candidate how he wants to oversee treasurer's office policy and strategy while having an administrator overseeing day-to-day operations:  After you are elected April 1, what first steps do you plan to take as treasurer?  

 Asked Friday, March 24, he answered the next day: "The first thing I plan to do is meet with the Board of Selectman on Monday, April 3, to advise them on the personnel changes I'm proposing, and ask them to endorse the changes before I submit them to the Finance Committee and Town Meeting.

"This isn't legally required, but I think it's important.

"I will then begin a review of the systems and processes within the treasurer's office, and work with various stakeholders (selectman, School Committee, town manager, etc.), to implement certain reforms that will strengthen our town government through transparency and accountability."

Policies, manager?

Who do you see appointing the person to run the day-to-day duties of the office? 

"Since I'm running unopposed, I've been able to start working on my transition, with the largest piece being the fulfillment of my campaign promise to work with Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine to identify a treasury professional who will run the day-to-day operations of the office. We've identified the person and are hoping to have them in place on Monday, April 3.

"As this is a personnel matter, I will not be disclosing publicly who the person is prior to the HR process being finalized. What I can tell you is that in addition to working on the selection with Adam, I've consulted on this matter with the Director of Human Resources Caryn Malloy, and I've been in periodic contact with Selectman Vice Chair Dan Dunn."

What policies for the treasurer do you plan to put in place?

"Early on in my campaign, I stated a series of proposals that I wanted to implement relating to investment and debt management. As I transition to governing, I'm keenly aware that in order to implement sustainable policy change it needs to be done collaboratively.

"Currently, I'm having or scheduling conversations with town leaders, and looking at areas of common agreement for policy change. Even if I have the authority as treasurer to implement a change, I still need to build consensus so it's sustainable."

Is it legal?

Who has assured you that a town treasurer's office may legally be run in the way you would like, and what was the opinion in this regard?

"Prior to jumping into the race, I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the town bylaws to see if what I want to do is legal. What I found is that the current bylaws gives the elected treasurer a frightening amount of independence from the general government. The treasurer does not appear on the [town's] 'M' (management) schedule, and is considered an 'independent authority,' with broad personnel authority."

Carman cited the relevant bylaw -- Title I, Article 6, Section 9A, dating from the May 15, 1995 Special Town Meeting. It says, in part:

"'The Town Clerk and the Treasurer/Collector, as independent authorities, may reorganize, consolidate, or otherwise establish new positions in their respective departments without prior Town Meeting approval subject to available funds and the requirements of collective bargaining contracts and laws relating to same.

"'Said authorities may appoint persons to fill such new positions so created on a temporary basis.'"

"The bylaw provides additional clarification and steps that must be adhered to, but it's clear that the Town Meeting has afforded the treasurer's office broad authority. Reasonable people can disagree on whether it's appropriate, but it's the law."

Pay, hours?

What would you be paid, and from what budget would the salary for the day-to-person come from?

"I'm currently working with the director of human resources on both my compensation and the compensation of the person who will run the treasurer's office, day to day. My plan is to circulate an amended budget request to the Finance Committee after I am elected.

"While I cannot share the details of the plan at this time, since it is a personnel matter that hasn't been finalized, I can tell you that the budget I propose will be a reduction from the current proposed budget."

How many hours a week do you expect policy-making and oversight will take?

"As the selection process for a full-time department head has evolved, so has my expected time commitments for the treasurer's role. Without disclosing anything on the personnel side, I would expect to spend about 20 hours per week as treasurer through at least the end of the calendar year.

"Once we get through the end of the year and have systems and processes established, I will revisit what my weekly commitment to the job" will be.

Carman concluded: "Thanks for asking the questions. I was surprised nobody asked them at the event [March 21]."

He is seeking election to the office held since 2006 by Stephen Gilligan, who is retiring after lengthy town service on many boards. Gilligan took office following the retirement of John Bilafer, town treasurer since 1972. 

 News stories

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 Sunday, March 26, 2017.

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