Photo: The Belmont Select Board: (from left) Roy Epstein, Chair Mark Paolillo, and Elizabeth Dionne
Jennifer Hewitt, the town’s financial director and assistant town administrator, has been appointed Belmont’s Treasurer/Collector by Town Administrator Patrice Garvin during the annual organizational meeting of the Belmont Select Board on Friday, April 7. Hewitt replaces Floyd Carman, who held the post for 18 years.
“I think what we’re going to do is really just have [Hewitt] be the treasurer right now,” said Garvin. “There’s a lot to do in that office.”
The appointment will be short as Hewitt’s tenure will last until June 30, at which time the town will hopefully have appointed a permanent successor, according to Garvin. The board ratified Hewitt’s appointment as of April 5, a contingent on her receiving a public official bond.
The Treasurer’s position became an appointed post after voters approved a ballot measure changing the job from an elected one at Tuesday’s annual town election. The proposed salary for this new support staff position will be between $88,000 to $125,000 given the level of experience, with a possible signing bonus due to the tight job market.
Earlier Friday, the board made some “minor changes” to the body’s rules and regulations, said Paolillo, one which affected the length of his term as its chair. The board adopted a new day for its organizational meeting, which traditionally was the day after the annual town election, and moved it to July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
According to Vice Chair Roy Epstein, it would be preferable that a new chair and vice chair is not designated before the annual Town Meeting – which takes place from May to June – as it would be “unnecessarily disruptive.”
“Chairs are involved with Town Meeting preparation … and the vice chair, who is a member of the comprehensive capital budget committee, has been involved with the development of the capital budget,” he noted. Under the new rule, Paolillo will continue as chair until July 1, 2023, when Epstein will “rotate” into the top spot, and newly elected Board member Elizabeth Dionne will become vice chair.
“And Mark, you either go off to a well-deserved retirement (Paolillo’s term is up in 2024) or you become the most incredible member in history and go for another chairmanship [in 2025],” quipped Epstein.
Dionne said under the new system, a chair will experience two Town Meeting cycles before moving into the chairmanship, which she believes can be “very helpful.” The changes were passed unanimously.
Another change Epstein proposed was ending office hours held by board members as they don’t pertain to meetings of the board. “People can contact us plenty via email. Board members are on their own and are free to hold hours.”
Paolillo noted from experience that residents poorly attend those events.
Epstein’s final recommended change is that board members do not need to attend the committees and boards, which they are non-voting liaisons, as opposed to those bodies, such as the Warrant Committee, in which they are sitting members.
“I think the liaison structure is simply not working … and it’s terribly inefficient because we spend an awful lot of time in meetings” in which the board representatives are essentially members of the audience. Epstein believed it’s more useful for those entities to “submitted a report periodically … on a need-to-know basis.” Ideally, the most efficient method of communication would be “a short-written memorandum prepared by the chair.”
While she believed the recommendation would free up the board to prepare to do some serious strategic thinking on the town’s future, Dionne said she had established relationships with certain committees, including Economic Development which she’d like to continue attending voluntarily.