Holyoke treasurer Joshua Garcia hopes he can make the financial structure work

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Joshua A. Garcia

((PHOTO FILE))

HOLYOKE – Joshua A. Garcia, a former school committee member who hopes to run for city treasurer, said he can establish the cooperation and communication that the state said the financial structure of the city ​​needed.

“I have the necessary technical assistance and public management expertise that our local government currently lacks to make this vision a reality,” Garcia said in a press release Wednesday.

“Developing and maintaining a strong financial collaborative relationship between municipal departments is fundamental,” he said.

Garcia, formerly a member of the Ward 1 School Committee, is the Municipal Services Coordinator for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Westfield State University.

A 14-page review (see below) by the State Revenue Department (DOR) said the city government’s financial structure is rambling and outdated.

“It is in this context that we have seen that Holyoke’s financial management operations continue to be hampered by a disjointed financial structure and a lack of coordination. “says the report.

The city council voted on Tuesday April 21 to send the report back to its finance committee.

The report was addressed to Mayor Alex B. Morse, dated March 2015 and signed by Sean R. Cronin, Senior Deputy Commissioner of DOR.

DOR staff interviewed local officials, reviewed the city’s 119-year-old charter and ordinances, and examined the functioning of officers such as the Board of Appraisers, the Treasurer, the City Auditor and others.

“As city treasurer, I will lead by facilitating interdepartmental collaboration and, moreover, city-wide cooperation,” Garcia said.

He would initiate a strategic financial planning process that takes into account both short and long-term budget goals, he said.

The city treasurer is an elected position here, but at this time, he is not among the positions on the November 3 ballot. But officials expect a special election to be scheduled for the post, most likely on the same day and poll as the Nov. 3 general election, to choose a treasurer to complete the last two years of the four-year term. years of former treasurer Jon D. Lumbra.

Lumbra, who was in his second term as city treasurer, resigned on February 13 after taking another full-time job as a controller at Loomis Communities, a retirement pension company for the elderly, on November 3.

Morse appointed Sandra Smith, who was assistant treasurer, interim treasurer.

Garcia has announced that he will run for treasurer on January 12.

The annual salary of the treasurer is $ 70,016.

To complicate matters, the Walrus and city council also asked a compelling question about the Nov. 3 poll to change the city treasurer from an elected position to one appointed by city council.

It would fit with a multi-part plan to change parts of government that Morse and city council chairman Kevin A. Jourdain proposed in early February. According to their plan, a finance department would be created and overseen by a finance director, centralizing a fragmented set of functions criticized in the DOR report. The treasurer under this plan would be associated with the tax collector.

Because changing the way the treasurer’s post is held would require an amendment to the city charter, this step also requires seeking the approval of a self-government petition by the state legislature, in addition to the issue of the binding ballot that voters will face. The self-government petition on this matter is before the Municipalities Committee and is being considered by the House of Representatives council, said Pat Duffy, assistant to state representative Aaron M. Vega, D-Holyoke.

If the ballot question on how the seat of treasurer is filled is approved by the voters, it is likely that it will not take effect until the next municipal election in 2017. In that case, and because the city must having an interim treasurer, a special election will be required, with the winner of this competition completing the remaining two years of Lumbra’s tenure.

The duties of the treasurer include managing tax title records for properties whose owners are behind schedule with the city, holding and investing municipal funds, and managing employee salaries in the city budget, which has started the current fiscal year on July 1 at $ 124.4 million.

Ministry of Revenue Report on Holyoke


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Marianne R. Winn

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