WAKEFIELD — The Finance Committee will not initiate an article on the May 4 Annual Meeting Warrant to change the Town Clerk’s position from elected to appointed.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, after a motion to that effect by Daniel Sherman, FinCom members had said that they were not prepared to make such a decision without much more information. They discussed the possibility of holding a special meeting with Town Counsel Thomas Mullen on March 19 for a thorough discussion of the process and ramifications of changing elected positions like the Town Clerk’s to appointed positions.

Last night, the FinCom voted 6-4 against holding that special meeting with Mullen and indicated that they would not move for the change to the Town Clerk’s position at Annual Town Meeting on May 4.

Chairman Gerard Leeman did say, however, that the FinCom likely would consider recommending an FY 2016 Town Clerk’s budget that that does not include the $76,000 Town Clerk’s salary. Sherman has said that that when the FinCom takes its official votes on departmental budgets just prior to Annual Town Meeting, he will move to withhold the Town Clerk’s salary from the budget.

Town Clerk Mary K. Galvin has been out of work since last April after collapsing in her office and spending six days in Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Doctors initially suspected a heart attack or a stroke but ultimately attributed her symptoms to stress she felt on the job. Galvin has said she would like to return to work but has been advised by doctors that it would not he healthy for her “under the current circumstances.” She has been collecting her full salary while absent from work.

Sherman, who also serves on the Retirement Board, cautioned his fellow FinCom members that while Galvin has announced her retirement effective June 30, she could rescind that decision at any time up to that date.

“So if we approve a salary for the Town Clerk because she has filed the (retirement) papers,” Sherman warned, “and then she rescinds them on the 29th of June, she will get one year of full salary and we’ll be in the same position we’ve been in for the last nine months.”

In voting not to meet with Mullen to discuss making the Town Clerk an appointed position, FinCom members said that they understood Sherman’s position that as stewards of the town’s finances they should be looking for ways to avoid paying an individual for no services.

But members Doug Butler and Ed Dombroski said that they did not think that the Finance Committee should be the body to initiate changing the position from elected to appointed.

“We are stewards of the town’s tax dollars,” Dombroski said. “That’s separate from the bigger issue of should it be an appointed or elected position.” He said that he saw such a move as venturing beyond the FinCom’s role as stewards of the town’s finances into the territory of setting policy.


The FinCom also reviewed several FY 2016 departmental budgets last night.

Town Accountant Kevin Gill presented the budgets, with Maio and the respective department head alongside.

Gill said that the $431,620 Information Technology budget was up $10,806 over the current year.

Peter McNamara of the FinCom IT Subcommittee said that the subcommittee supported the budget. He noted that the FY 2015 budget called for a staff of seven but IT Director David Knox currently has a staff of four, all of whom are working long hours and wearing multiple hats. New technology and new projects have been on hold as a result. McNamara said that the FY‘16 budget will allow Knox to restructure and add a couple of positions to stabilize staffing and provide a higher level of support in all areas.


Gill told the FinCom that the Fire Department Budget was up $115,728 to $4,245,738. The Fire Subcommittee’s Doug Butler explained that full staffing of the department had allowed Chief Michael Sullivan to budget overtime at a reasonable level.

When questioned about vehicle maintenance expenses, Sullivan explained that the brand new ladder truck will save money on repairs but that the truck is much more computerized than older models so when something does break, it’s expensive.


Gill presented the Emergency Management budget at a level-funded $30,872.


Gill said that the $4,872,405 Retirement budget was up $251,085. Gill and Sherman noted that the town had been able to shorten the funding schedule by three years to 2035 while keeping the level of contribution increase stable from year to year.


The FinCom approved a $400,000 Snow and Ice Overdraft, bringing the total overdrafts to $1.2 million. Maio said that the town may get about $200,000 back from the state but he wasn’t counting on it. He said that about $340,000 of the latest $400,000 overdraft was already spoken for.