PAC to nominate Miller for treasurer post

WESTFIELD – The City Council’s Personnel Action Committee (PAC) voted unanimously last night to nominate the hometown candidate to the City Council for appointment as the next city treasurer.
The three-member PAC will bring out the name of Meghan C. Miller, who currently serves as the assistant comptroller at the Appleton Corporation, a Holyoke-based firm which manages commercial and residential property, facilities support, troubled asset management, as well as accounting and financial services to property owners and nonprofit organizations.
Miller is one of four finalists interviewed by the PAC on Oct. 17 for the municipal post. A screening committee comprised of City Hall officials selected the four finalists from a field of 17 applicants.
The PAC members, At-large Councilors Brent B Bean II and Brian Sullivan and Ward 3 Councilor Ann Callahan also cited the fact that Miller is a life-long resident who “is dedicated to the City of Westfield” and who would bring the stability of longevity to the post which has been held for the past 28 years by Greg I. Kallfa, another city resident.
Miller, who is the daughter of retired police Lt., Paul Miller, attended St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., prior to taking the assistant comptroller position at Appleton.
The selection of Miller triggered a discussion between the PAC members and three other City Councilors present at the committee session. At-large Councilor David A. Flaherty, Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell and Ward 1 Councilor Christopher Keefe all stated preferences for other candidates with greater municipal experience.
“It’s hard to overlook the candidates with municipal experience,” O’Connell said. “Meghan is great, so sharp, but throwing her into the fire pit of that office is not fair. Would she make a perfect assistant treasurer, yes, but I would prefer someone with municipal experience.”
Flaherty agreed with O’Connell’s assessment.  “I don’t think Meghan is ready to walk through the door and do that job, so I’m a little concerned.”
Keefe also argued for candidates with municipal finance experience
“Meghan is the last on my list because she does lack municipal experience. That worries me,” he said. “We do have three candidates with experience in municipal finance. Mr. Lonergan is bluntly honest and Ms. Cooley has a spine of steel. I’d like to see someone who is responsive to the law, not the mayor or council.”
Flaherty and O’Connell both voiced support for the appointment of Stephen J. Lonergan, the current Springfield Treasurer-Collector; while Keefe supported either Lonergan or Kathleen Cooley, the manager of the New England Farm Worker’s Council fuel assistance program because of their experience with Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 44 which deals with municipal finance.
The six council members also debated the process of recommending candidates for appointment as city treasurer, with O’Connell and Flaherty seeking the PAC to endorse more than one of the finalists at the City Council’s Nov. 1 session.
“You are the guys,” O’Connell said, “but I think it’s a little exclusive for three councilors to present one candidate. I would prefer two or three candidates. It would be nice if (other) councilors could have more input rather than having an up or down vote on one candidate.”
A candidate will need to secure the vote of seven out of the council’s 12 sitting members of the council to win appointment to the post.
Sullivan said that any council member can nominate a candidate from the floor or make an amendment to the PAC’s motion.
Sullivan put Miller’s nomination into play.
“I’m glad we didn’t make a decision the same night as the interviews,” he said. “I’ve spent time since the interviews speaking with people inside and outside City Hall. There are just so many facets of this job and we have four candidates.
“I will be supporting Meghan Miller after talking to the professional in City Hall about what type of person is needed for this job, someone who is innovative, who has financial experience and comes with fresh, new ideas,” Sullivan said.
“I’ve known just two treasurers during my 48 years as a city resident, Tom O’Niel and Greg Kallfa, neither of whom had prior municipal experience, but who were two of the best treasurers in the city’s history.” Sullivan said.
Callahan said that the four finalists are all well educated and competent.
“Any would do well in this post,” Callahan said. “I too spoke with people and constituents and I will also be supporting Meghan Miller who is dedicated to Westfield and will bring longevity to the position,” Callahan said. “Meghan has experience in managing a staff, investment experience and financial management experience.”
Bean, who is the PAC chairman, “wholeheartedly” supported Miller because of “how her work translates to the duties of the City Treasurer.
“I love that fact that she has strong ties to the city, lives here,” he said. “A lot of councilors take the word of committees which do the work. The PAC could make no recommendation and open this to the floor. I don’t like that, we need to take the initiative and support the person who we feel is the best candidate for the city. We have a committee; need to make a recommendation on the floor.”

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