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By Mary E. Arata

maratat@nasohbapub.com

AYER — The reorganization of the Finance Committee continued at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Prior vice chair James Stephen resigned midterm on Aug. 31. The board tapped Brian Muldoon as its new vice chair. However, Muldoon repeatedly refused requests to accept the chairman role.

“I can’t let this die. Are you sure you don’t want to be chair of this?” asked Committee member Jesse Reich. With 22 months of service under his belt, Muldoon is presently the most-senior FinCom member. Muldoon declined. “I don’t know what it is. I don’t think that being here the longest makes me the chairman.”

On Sept. 1, the Ayer Board of Selectmen appointed Glen LaPierre to fulfill the remainder of a vacant three-year term. LaPierre was sworn in by the town clerk on Sept. 9 and attended his first FinCom meeting that evening. The committee unanimously selected him as their clerk.

Reich, the third member of the Finance Committee, was appointed to the committee in July. Reich was selected by the committee to be its representative to the executive Tri-Board budget subcommittee. The executive Tri-Board is a subset of the town’s larger Tri-Board budget consensus-building process –comprised of the selectmen, Finance Committee and School Committee membership.

With the departure of Stephen and the addition of LaPierre, the five-person board is still down two members. Towards that end of their meeting, the committee unanimously endorsed Scott Houde for selectmen consideration for appointment. Houde’s appointment vote is on the selectmen’s agenda for this Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Houde said, “I’m a whiz at Excel and financial reports.” He felt it important to answer the town’s call for volunteers, “this is probably the best place I can help out. I want to help grow the town that my kids are probably going to grow up in.”

Houde labeled himself a fiscal conservative, voiced opposition to the failed Vicksburg Square housing proposal for Devens, and said he’s a fan of the Town Meeting form of government, calling it the “birthplace of democracy.” Houde advocated for “transparency in government” rather than “an agenda of smoke and mirrors.”

Following his appointment, Reich provided Houde with the warning he’d recently received with his own appointment to the Finance Committee. Reich advised Houde to get ready for a busy meeting schedule when the budget building season kicks in after New Years. Muldoon agreed, warning there were 23 to 26 meetings during the late winter/early spring budget-building season.

Andrew Crowley, who’d previously expressed some interest in serving on the committee, formally submitted a letter of intention to Muldoon that night. Muldoon said Crowley could now be considered at the next committee meeting.

Short staffing for the committee has caused a ripple effect on other town boards awaiting FinCom delegates to serve on their boards. Case in point is the quorum-tight Community Preservation Commission. CPC Chairman Alene Reich (wife of FinCom member Jesse Reich) appealed for someone to serve on the nine-man CPC soon, as the CPC prepares to hear upcoming funding requests and proposals to consider.

Jesse Reich originally volunteered to serve as the FinCom representative to the CPC, saying, “I think it would make sense . . . we can go to the same place.” But after deliberation, Jesse Reich retracted the offer to serve as a FinCom representative to the CPC. “That’s why I asked if it is this a smart thing to do from the town’s perspective. We’re not trying to make a Reich cartel on the CPC.”