Six members of the finance committee announced today that they are resigning their posts after the approval of the contentious budget at town meeting.
Only one member, Steve Schoonveld, has stayed on for the committee.
The town is wasting no time in filling the vacant positions. With such a mass exodus, Mansfield needs to have a finance committee as soon as possible, especially with more town meeting on the way.
“We’ve already posted on our job site and we’ve seen some expressions of interest,” Town Manager William Ross said. “[We’re going to] Make sure we have a finance committee that is operational and has people on it with a good financial background and are going to work with us to address the issues of the town.”
Some officials feel that the resignation is a fault of the town’s decision to approve the budget and also a fault of officials themselves in coordination efforts. The new budget was put out about a week before town meeting and finance committee members explicitly said at a meeting before town meeting that they were not comfortable with the budget.
“I’m very very saddened,” said selectmen George Dentino. “Some people has been there for 18, 12 years, some 10 years and I’m saddened that all this ended the way it did. I will say that I think we as a board and the town manager, I think we let the finance committee down. I really do. They didn’t receive anything until a short time before [town meeting], it’s disheartening to say the least.”
Others, like Schools Committee Chair Michael Trowbridge said that, while it was an unfortunate turn of events, the town did vote to approve the budget despite the Finance Committee’s objections, however fair they might have been.
“It is unfortunate that they chose to resign,” Trowbridge said in an email. “There are members that I had a great deal of respect for and I still do. We may not always agree, but you need to be open to finding solutions that work so that the town and schools can continue to serve the needs and expectations of the residents. We have followed the advice of fincom on most occasions, and have made cuts to teaching positions. We now see that that was not in the best interest of the students. That does not mean that we did not value their advice, we did. In turn we expect that our opinions be taken into account as well by the fincom. If we were to always just follow the advice of fincom, you would not have two elected boards, a Town Manager and a Superintendent. The end result is, that decisions that are made, were made by the two elected boards who are ultimately responsible for the budgets and the Professional Staff of the Town Manager and Superintendent who implement them. The final decision rested with the voters , and they have spoken.”