Barrington considers consolidating finance positions

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Should Barrington have two finance directors — one for the municipal government and another for the school department — or should there be a single position?

That question surfaced at the Dec. 2 Barrington Town Council meeting, as Bill DeWitt suggested that since the town was currently without a finance director this could be a good time to consolidate the position. Council president June Speakman did not agree.

Now is not the time, she said, adding that the municipal government needed to fill the finance director's job soon. Dean Huff previously served as the finance director but resigned in mid-October. The town has been conducting a search for a replacement, and according to Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis, has narrowed its search to two candidates.

At the meeting, Mr. DeAngelis told the council he planned to fill the position soon.

"I always thing it's important to collaborate and share services," Mr. DeAngelis said, adding that with conversations with school officials he learned there was "not a lot of interest" in consolidating the positions.  "I have to fill this position. … I plan on moving forward."

Mr. DeAngelis said other Rhode Island communities are trying to fill similar positions. He said some of those towns have already contacted his office in an effort to recruit potential candidates.

On more than one occasion during the discussion, officials mentioned Ron Tarro, the director of finance and administration for the school department. Mr. Tarro earlier worked for the municipal government's finance department.

Mr. DeAngelis said it was not likely that Mr. Tarro would be interested in filling a consolidated position: "It's not going to happen. I can say that with great confidence. He's not going to do that. His superintendent is not going to support that."

In a subsequent interview, Barrington Schools Superintendent Mike Messore said he was not surprised to learn that the council had discussed the topic.

"I've heard rumors for a long time," he said. "Consolidation might be very difficult because of the amount of responsibilities that Ron has."

Mr. Messore added that while consolidation of the finance position could pose challenges, there may be other opportunities to collaborate with the municipal half of the town government.

"It's not necessarily that we can share a person, but there are opportunities to work together," he said, "and we're more than willing to lend our expertise or collaborate.

"We have a good relationship with the town. We want to keep that."

The council still intends to further discuss the issue.

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