In 2011, Town Meeting voted to have the “Town Manager research a consolidated Town-School Finance Department with input from the Board of Selectmen, School Committee, Superintendent, the Finance Committee and other appointed and elected officials with responsibilities related to financial management and report back to the 2012 Annual Town Meeting.”
At the request of the Arlington Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Town Manager, the Department of Revenue's (DOR) Division of Local Services (DLS) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) were engaged to review Arlington’s financial structure.
The purpose of this assessment was to assist Arlington officials as they evaluate Town and School financial organizations and consider the prospect of merging these functions or otherwise restructuring them. In reviewing the existing operations, the DLS and DESE focused on: (1) documenting existing organizational structures and workflows; (2) examining potential options and opportunities for achieving operational efficiencies or process improvements; and (3) assessing the benefits or efficiencies associated with consolidation or re-structuring of the Town and School finance operation.
Their findings and recommendations were derived from on-site visits and telephone conversations by staff members of the Division’s Municipal Data Management & Technical Assistance Bureau (MDM/TAB) and DESE’s School Business Services unit. The staff interviewed members of the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee, as well as the Town Manager and School Superintendent, Deputy Town Manager, Comptroller, Treasurer/Collector, Director of Assessing, School Chief Financial Officer, Payroll Director, Town-School Information Technology Director, Purchasing Agent and other municipal finance and school business office staff.
DLS staff examined documents such as the annual budgets, tax rate recapitulation sheets, balance sheets and audits. Also reviewed were the Town’s organizational structure as set out in the Arlington Town Manager Act, subsequent other special acts and the Town’s bylaws. The Town also provided warrants, employee contracts, job descriptions, revenue and expenditure reports, the Powers and Sullivan report on the FY2010 school deficit, the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials (MASBO) review of the School Department’s financial operations and other assorted financial documents.
They recently completed their analysis and submitted a report with their recommendations to Town Officials for the upcoming 2012 Town Meeting. The report can be viewed online at arlingtonma.gov.