Finance department to move in-house by September 30

Marathon Vice Mayor Mark Senmartin asked the council to agree to not renew Bishop & Rosasco’s contract to provide finance services to the city at the most recent city council meeting. He said the biggest benefit to hiring staff would be the cost savings.

“It’s possible we could save up to $130,000 a year,” he said.

The council was presented with numbers estimating that a two-person finance team (director and assistant) would cost about $240,000 per year.

The council debated the pro’s and con’s of having an in-house finance department: whether or not an employee has a bigger vested interest than a contracted firm; the pool of potential applicants; the projected savings; and, most of all, the timing of the decision.

Senmartin said he spoke with Peter Rosasco of the Bishop & Rosasco accounting firm earlier in the week. Rosasco is the former finance director who stepped down after conflict-of-interest allegations arose regarding his dual role as a developer of the Marathon country club. Jennifer Johnson, of the Bishop & Rosasco firm, currently serves as the finance director.

“Peter is absolutely on board and is going to be as helpful as he can be [in the interim],” Senmartin said. “And if we get to the end of September and still don’t have in-house finance, he agreed to stay on month-to-month.”

Councilman Dan Zieg agreed immediately.

“I think the Vice Mayor has an excellent idea. We should give proper notice to cancel the contract,” Zieg said.

Councilmen Bill Kelly and Rich Keating were less enthusiastic about finding the right people and the timing, but still agreed to support allowing the contract to expire.

“This may not be as easy as we think it is,” Keating said.

Mayor Chris Bull said, “I’m still not convinced that two people will [staff] a finance department that can handle all the stuff were going through right now — state revolving fund loans, day-to-day bookkeeping and all the reports,” Bull said.

The council also spoke about the extra expense of housing a finance department before the new city hall is complete. (The current city hall trailers don’t have extra room for two new staffers.) Senmartin said he had a verbal agreement from Mosquito Control’s Michael Doyle to provide office space in the interim.

If a finance director is hired by June 1st, there would be a 90-day transition period which includes budget season before the Bishop & Rosasco contract expires at the end of September. Council directed staff to create the position and advertise it.

In other news:

  • Councilman Zieg suggested moving city council meetings to once every three weeks instead of every two weeks. He said it would be more cost-effective and reduce the amount of time staff spends preparing for meetings. Puto agreed to look into the scheduling and get back to the council at the next meeting. Councilman Kelly cautioned that frequent meetings give the public more opportunity to address problems and Councilman Senmartin noted it may slow the pace at which city government moves, such as waiting on council decisions regarding contracts or project approvals that the private sector depends upon.

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