City auditor search is underway

Ward 2 Councilor and Finance Committee Chair Ralph J. Figy (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – An Auditor Search Committee, led by Ward 2 Councilor Ralph J. Figy, with representation by Ward 3 Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane, several key city department heads and Westfield CPA John Liptak, met recently to discuss the process of hiring one of the positions the City Council is charged with filling. Also discussed were responses to date to the job posting.

Figy asked for a motion for the Personnel and Law departments to come up with a list of questions that will be asked of candidates. Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr., who was present at the teleconference, asked whether there was a list of questions from the last time there was an opening, and whether the committee could use them.

Acting Personnel Director Joanne Lemelin said they have the questions, and they will be used as a template. A motion was made to charge the Personnel and Law Departments to come up with questions for the candidates. Figy said he has also asked for input from the City Council.

Figy asked how the committee would proceed if there were an insufficient pool of candidates, and asked how many had responded to the job posting to date. Lemelin said they had one complete application, and one incomplete application for the position.

“This is going to be a hard one to fill,” said Lemelin adding that in western Massachusetts filling financial positions is difficult and some towns have had positions unfilled for eight months.

Figy asked if the committee should extend the search for another 30 days. A motion was made and passed unanimously to extend the search until Aug. 20.

Also discussed were other platforms on which to advertise, including SchoolSpring, the Mass. Society of CPAs, and the Mayors Association.

Figy said he would email possible dates for the next meeting in mid-August. He said all of the future meetings will be held in executive session, until two or three candidates are selected to come before the City Council for the hire.

After the meeting, Figy said he is hoping to have the position filled by Sept. 1, due to the importance of the Auditor’s position to the running of the city.

“I think it’s crucial, because they make sure every expenditure is appropriate, and the accounts are charged appropriately, and they are also the ones who will determine the amount of Free Cash available, which the state certifies,” Figy said.

He also said he is confident that the City Council will be able to find the right person.

“I think this Council has been able to come up with creative solutions to the budgetary issues,” Figy said, adding, “I’m looking forward to getting this position filled.”

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