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East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen hires new town accountant

Aug. 20, 2014 | Chris Goudreau

The Board of Selectmen interviews Dawn Toon (left) for the vacant health agent position
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Goudreau

EAST LONGMEADOW – Sara Menard officially became the town’s new accountant after the Board of Selectmen made its decision by a vote of 2-1 on Aug. 19 following a final interview with Menard and Thomas Caliento, who has been the town accountant for roughly seven years.

Angela Thorpe, chair of the board, and Selectman Paul Federici voted in favor of hiring Menard, while Selectman William Gorman opposed it.

Caliento said before the announcement that he approved of the Board of Selectmen’s decision to hold interviews for the town accountant position.

“You want to walk away maintaining the operation because … it can fall apart very quickly,” he said. “I want to make sure that doesn’t happen if I am not your candidate.”

Thorpe said that one aspect which stood out for Menard was her certification as a public accountant and her desire to be certified in the municipal context.

“I hate this process the way it is and you end up feeling, especially in this situation, like a Benedict Arnold … especially when I’ve worked with someone from day one,” Federici said. 

Originally one of the qualifications for the position was a certification as a municipal accountant, he noted.

“We originally had seven candidates apply, only one of them had that designation and that person withdrew their application before we got to the questions last Thursday [Aug. 14 during an executive session] for the interviews,” Federici added. 

Gorman stated that one of the probable causes of the one candidate with the municipal accountant certification withdrawing from the running for the position was the salary. Thorpe and Federici both agreed with Gorman’s assertion.

“I think that the accountant should be paid one of the higher positions in East Longmeadow because that’s the heart of East Longmeadow but that isn’t the situation here right now,” Gorman said.

During her interview, Menard said her current position is as an accounting manager for an unspecified hospital group.

When she began working as accounting manager, a large portion of the senior executives such as the chief financial officer (CFO) and the interim CFO left the organization unexpectedly, she said.

Small financial entities within the organization were left to Menard to oversee without any knowledge about their operations such as whether they were profitable, she added.

“And so I had to do all of that from scratch without having outside help and knowledge and I was able to do that,” Menard said. “So I feel that those are skill sets that you have to learn by doing, that you can’t necessarily be taught.”

In other business, the Board of Selectman held interviews for a part-time health agent position, which is 15 hours a week and pays $22 an hour, on Aug. 14. 

There are two candidates for the position and the announcement will likely take place at a Board of Selectmen meeting in early September, Thorpe said.

Andrew DaCruz, a candidate for the position, said that he has worked as a public health inspector for the city of Ludlow for six years and currently works from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at that position.

“First and foremost, I’m not there to turn a blind eye because if I do than that’s on me,” he said. “If somebody gets sick, if something happens, if somebody gets hurt, that’s on me and that’s on the town.”

Dawn Toon, the other candidate for the position, currently works for the town of Sturbridge as a public health inspector and has been in that position since June 2014.

Toon said she also has nearly 20 years experience as a personal protective equipment technical support specialist, which includes work with safety goggles and eyewear.

“We’re really here to protect people, we don’t want anybody to get sick,” she added.

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