MANCHESTER — Ending a three-month hiring process, Town Administrator Wayne Melville has tapped a financial consultant with Wells Fargo Advisors in Naples Fla., to succeed Caroline Johnson as the town's treasurer.

Melville's recommended candidate, Charles F. Mansfield served as town treasurer in North Andover from 1987-1992, and as Chelmsford's treasurer from 1992-2004. He also worked as the assistant town accountant for Danvers.

According to Melville — who recommended Mansfield to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting Monday night — Mansfield has a practical and theoretical understanding of how to manage town finances and has a handle on the town bookkeeping software, Munis.

The selectmen put off voting on the recommendation until the board can meet with Mansfield at the board's Aug. 2 meeting. If he is approved then, Mansfield would be paid $67,000 a year and start on the job on Aug. 16.

His most recent employment, with Wells Fargo in Naples, Fla,, involved work with "high net-worth individuals" and foundations, trusts and government agencies, according to his resume for the position. With these clients, Mansfield managed investment portfolios and designed financial plans.

The town of Manchester earned $29,000 from investments in the 2009 financial year, but that number could be twice that amount, according to Melville, depending on interest rates.

"There's more to (the position) than taking bills and collecting taxes," he said.

Melville recommended Mansfield from a field of three finalists. The other two, according to Melville, work as treasurers in nearby towns. He declined to identify the other finalists, except to say that all three were qualified for the position.

When searching for a new treasurer, Melville said he looked for someone with experience as a town treasurer and tax collector and understood how to properly keep town financial records.

He said Mansfield also possessed an Information Technologies background and knew how to work with the current town software.

Melville said he consulted the acting town treasurer Cyndie Manos and town accountant Charlie Lane, during the hiring process but, ultimately, the decision lies with the town administrator, who handles the hiring and firing of town employees.

In the case of department heads, the town administrator's recommendation requires the Board of Selectmen's approval, as in this case. According to Melville, the board chose not to take part in the interview process but to vote only on his recommendation.

The treasurer's position became open after the selectmen — at Melville's recommendation — voted not to reappoint Johnson in April after she had served 23 years in the office.

Johnson's non-appointment came after the town's fiscal 2008 audit found a myriad of adjustments in Manchester's cashbook on June 30, 2008 — the end of that fiscal year.

The changes attempted to reconcile the cashbook with the town's general ledger. Those alterations led to an initial variance of $40,000, but a further audit found that number reduced to $1,900, according to town officials.

While no charges were ever filed, Johnson claimed that the board had insinuated she had taken the funds, and indicated that she had asked for the audit.

She has since filed a complaint against the selectmen, accusing the town of discrimination and alleged "retaliation" against her.

Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3447, or at gt_reporter@gloucestertimes.com

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