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Selectmen Move Ahead with Consolidation of Town, Schools Finances

Town manager seeking feedback from town residents before drafting an article for this year's Town Meeting.

Arlington officials are moving ahead with a schools and town finances.

The  on Monday charged Town Manager Brian Sullivan with drafting an article for this year’s Town Meeting, after the to improve effectiveness and accountability in town operations.

Sullivan said he wants to take a couple of weeks to solicit comments from town officials and residents regarding the proposed changes. He will work with Town Counsel Juliana Rice to write an .

Frederick Kingsley, chief of the DOR’s Municipal Data Management and Technical Assistance Bureau, said consolidating finance departments between and town government is “extremely important” because Arlington is operating in an environment of constrained revenue.

“You’ve got good people that work hard and you can make it work, but you have to be as efficient as you possibly can,” Kingsley told the Board of Selectmen.

Kingsley and his team last week submitted a report that said a “government structure where town finance officers operate independently does not foster an environment conducive to strong financial management. “

In the report, Department of Revenue officials encouraged Arlington to explore an appointed Board of Assessors. Several selectmen said they are against that proposal and would rather keep the assessors as elected officials.

“There are so many good things in this report and there are so many ways that we can make ourselves better,” said Clarissa Rowe, chair of the Board of Selectmen. “But I think the citizens want to make sure there are as many elected officials as possible.”

Kingsley told the selectmen that town government needs to restructure several positions—from assessors to the town comptroller—before a merger gets underway.

“It’s not easy,” he added. “But it can be done successfully under the right circumstances.”

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