Amity finance member quits
Orange resident and Orange Board of Finance member Kevin Houlihan resigned his position on the Amity Finance Committee citing growing time constraints, inaction and personal agendas portrayed by other board members. He had been a member since July 2003.
The Amity Finance Committee was created last year replacing the Amity Board of Education's finance committee. The new Amity committee is comprised of board of education members as well as a representative from the finance board's in Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge.
Houlihan won a second-term on the Orange Board of Finance last November.
He said he could no longer meet the growing time constraint and expected it was going to dramatically increase with the resignation of Finance Director Keith McLiverty.
"The time constrains were becoming too great and things weren't being addressed in a timely way," he said. "One month after receiving Keith's notice of resignation nothing had been done to replace him."
"At that November meeting, they decided to put out an ad to replace him and accept resumes until Jan. 23, 2004! That meant to me that Amity wouldn't have a finance director until March 1," he said. "The entire budget process would now fall on the finance committee and the superintendent. I am a certified public accountant and I knew I couldn't commit to that much time."
Houlihan said he didn't feel he was always included in financial matters.
"At least two meetings I didn't get any notice of. And this also happened to Bethany representative Russ vonBeren," he said.
"In addition, we voted on a schedule of meetings through the end of the year with dates and times. On Dec. 22 a scheduled meeting was to start at 5 p.m. On the afternoon of Dec. 22 I got the agenda via e-mail and noticed the meeting time had been changed to 7:30 p.m. I wasn't able to attend. I had made plans for later in the evening believing I had a 5 p.m. meeting to attend. No one contacted me to advise me of the time change," he said.
Houlihan believes the superintendent made a mistake, which has hampered her ability to be an effective leader.
"I think she hurt herself when she took a political stand asking for board members resignations. That put her in a bad position making her political and taking her emphasis off of education," he said.
Houlihan said it's far past time to address the building problems but a super bond is not the way to go.
"To go out and build new schools - it may not pass, again delaying the fixing of the most immediate problems" he said.
"They need to go out tomorrow and bond for a few million dollars," he said referring to the 40 plus year old roofs and boilers at the junior highs in Orange and Bethany and the high school auditorium.
"I want to see the schools get fixed and I don't think the current board can get it fixed. There is too much posturing and not enough work being done," he said.
On the mysterious switch watcher the District hired to monitor the boilers at the Orange campus.
"They should not have waited until June to fix the boilers it needs to be addressed now. The fact that the finance committee hasn't even addressed where the funding to pay the company will come from is another example of how the finance committee could become a scapegoat for potential future financial problems at Amity. If they are not aware money is being spent they can't stop it," Houlihan said.
No replacement for Houlihan has been selected yet by the Orange Board of Finance.
Bridget Albert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org