Rindge’s finance director announces resignation

  • Rindge Finance Director Ellen Smith speaks to the Select Board during a meeting in February 2015. Smith has announced her resignation, effective at the end of the month.  Ledger-Transcript file photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 14, 2017

The town of Rindge has lost another notable employee, with Finance Director Ellen Smith announcing that she will leave her post at the end of the month to become town administrator in Marlborough. 

Smith, who has been employed by the town since 2011, said in her resignation letter dated Sept. 12 that she has witnessed decisions and actions over the past year that she felt weren’t in the best interest of the town.

“In addition, I believe that many of our dedicated and talented town employees have not been given the support they deserve and need,” said Smith, in her letter. Smith could not be reached for additional comment on Wednesday.

“It is my hope that the board of selectmen will take the concerns expressed by me over the last year and those many citizens over the last several weeks to heart and work together to put the town on a better, more positive and constructive course.”

Town Administrator Joe Byk said Wednesday morning that Smith submitted her letter around 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Byk said the town will immediately work to start a search process to find a new finance director.

The departure may come as a surprise to some, as it was announced during the Sept. 6 select board meeting that Smith’s contract was going to be renewed for three years.

“That was the case at the time,” said Byk. 

Byk deferred other questions to board chair Jim Qualey, who didn’t return a message left Wednesday morning. Likewise, selectman Robert Hamilton did not return a message by press time.

Selectwoman Roberta Oeser said Wednesday afternoon that she didn’t see Smith’s resignation coming, but she knew that Smith wasn’t happy.

“This is another tremendous loss for the town,” said Oeser. “I’m not sure [Qualey, Hamilton, and Byk] are aware of the ramifications of Ellen leaving, especially during budget season.”

Oeser said she knew Smith was stressed out due to not being in a “good work environment,” but was hoping she would stay with the town. Oeser said she is happy for Smith but sad for the town because it is losing a great employee.

“She’s worked for years to straighten out messes that had been going on for years,” said Oeser. “It’s very telling of  how competent she is.”

In becoming the Marlborough town administrator, Smith will once again work with former Rindge Town Administrator Jane Pitt, who serves on the select board in Marlborough.

“It’s like a reunion,” said Pitt, in an interview Wednesday. “We worked closely together in Rindge. I don’t think I could’ve done that job without her help and expertise.”

Pitt said tabbing Smith for Marlborough’s open town administrator position was like “catching lightning in a bottle.”

“It’s serendipitous that she came into the picture,” said Pitt, who said she had originally contacted Smith to see if she could take on some consulting work for the town. 

The two have remained close since Pitt tendered her resignation in Rindge on Feb. 24, 2016, according to Pitt.

At the time, Pitt said she had resigned because of some personal attacks on her character that she found unacceptable. On Wednesday, Pitt acknowledged that some of the issues she was facing when employed in the town still seem to exist. 

Smith is the second town employee in the past few weeks to depart from Rindge, with Police Chief Todd Muilenberg resigning a few weeks ago for a lieutenant position with the Jaffrey Police Department.

In his resignation letter, Muilenberg said he wasn’t receiving support from the select board and other “important town committees.”

“I hope the next Chief of Police is more successful in gaining the support and cooperation of our elected officials,” wrote Muilenberg. “This is critical to ensure the police department can recruit and retain quality employees and deliver safe, effective, and professional policing services for the citizens of Rindge. Our officers and citizens deserve nothing less.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.