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Letter: Garten's record should not be rewarded

Published 8:37 pm, Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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Helen Garten's ineffective leadership does not deserve a promotion. We need only to look at some of her actions to decide she should not get the promotion she seeks to first selectman.

During Helen Garten's leadership of the Board of Finance, Westport signed a $326,000 consulting agreement with Retirement System Consultants. The purpose was to provide "actuarial services" for Westport's pension and retirement plans. Incredibly, the firm she helped select had absolutely no experience representing municipalities.

So, what happened? The firm made a $40 million to $70 million mistake, a liability exceeding $125 million calculating retirement medical benefits. And, when she learned of the issue, Helen chose not to tell the other board members, instead sadly, letting the board work on a new, larger town budget.

Over the next two years the town will be negotiating new contracts with employees. Given Helen Garten's previous actions, we cannot trust her to manage this process.

Helen Garten also voted against consolidating the town and school back-office accounting system, a potentially huge savings for Westporters. For the next 10 years, and probably forever, we have lost the opportunity to integrate the functions of payroll, human resources, purchasing and accounting. We own, maintain and pay for two systems.

We the taxpayers are suffering as a result of her poor management. Helen's ineffective leadership will now place even more pressure on our town's crown jewels, including our schools, senior services and recreation facilities.

Helen Garten does not deserve to be promoted.

Bart Shuldman

Westport