By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – The Board of Selectmen recently announced that it would not renew the contract of Town Accountant Thomas Caliento and would soon begin the process of collecting resumes for the position.
Caliento, who has been the town’s full-time accountant since 2008 after filling an interim position in 2007, is in the final year of a three-year contract at a salary of approximately $77,000 per year.
“We’ve decided to, for lack of a more intelligent way of saying it, see what’s out there and we’re going to put the town accountant’s position out to bid effective July 1,” Selectman Paul Federici said at the board’s April 11 meeting.
He continued by stating the reason for the decision was not related to poor job performance, but the board’s desire to avoid getting “stagnant” in its approach to town operations and budgeting.
“Obviously our town accountant has done a more than adequate job, but it’s always nice to see what’s available,” Federici said.
The board is presently reviewing the job description, which he said should be posted in the near future. Board of Selectmen Chair Angela Thorpe added that Caliento is welcome to participate in the bidding process and could be signed to a new contract.
In the event a suitable candidate cannot be found by July 1, there are options for the town on a temporary basis until the position is filled.
“In the worst case, I’ve heard through the Massachusetts Municipal Association that there is a ‘rent and accountant’ program.” Federici said. “They have accountants who will come in if we don’t fill the position, but in a perfect world, we will have this done and get somebody new in so they can hit the ground running.”
Selectman William Gorman, who was not on the board at the time the decision to go out to bid was made, asked for an explanation of the decision-making process.
He also said that when he was campaigning, he was told there was money “not accounted for,” but Federici said that was not the case, according to the recent audit conducted by Scanlon and Associates.
“We have an annual audit that we pay a healthy sum for. To my knowledge, there was no money that was not accounted for and our auditors would catch that if there was,” he said. “I don’t know who you heard that from; I don’t really go by hearsay, but I can tell you that as you go along in this position, that the auditors do a really good job and the money that cones in to the town is all accounted for.”
Town Counsel James Donahue said that if Gorman wished to get up to speed in his understanding of the decision to put the accountant’s position up from bid, it could be duscussed further in executive session, as it was a personnel issue.
Gorman stated his belief that the public should know why the decision was made and Donahue suggested the board could have a discussion in executive session during which it could determine what, if any, statement beyond what was already said would be made.
Thorpe asked Town Administrator Nick Breault to add an executive session agenda item to the April 29 meeting agenda.