Apology needed, and a plan


To the Editor

Michael Dutton, the town administrator of Oak Bluffs, is either the highest paid employee or close to that in the town. With that pay comes great responsibility. The buck stops at his desk. Therefore, the financial problems of this town rest on his desk.

Since our most recent fiscal woes became public, we have yet to read or hear a shred of responsibility or regret from him. While we realize that some issues (like an employee being ill) are beyond his control, how the situation is dealt with is not. Our tax dollars help pay his salary and benefits. Most recently, the newspapers informed us that there is shortfall of $180,000 to pay for health benefits, and there will be a third time an override needs to be voted on. Mr. Dutton was quoted as saying it was “under-budgeted, plain and simple.” There is nothing simple about that. How was $180,000 overlooked in the budget process? If it was due to department heads or human resources, why didn’t he catch it?

To add insult to injury, we read that the state attorney general’s office is looking into the town’s bidding procedures. Mr. Dutton pleaded ignorance on that one, but as town administrator it’s his job to know. And this process is costing us even more money. Mr. Dutton served as a selectman in this town before being hired as town administrator. There is no excuse for this mess.

Mr. Dutton owes the taxpayers of Oak Bluffs an apology, accompanied by a plan that illustrates how this fiscal mess can be prevented from happening again. We hope the selectmen will hold Mr. Dutton accountable.

Mr. Vail campaigned on a platform of financial responsibility. Mr. Santoro ran as a fresh voice. We voted for both. They, along with the other board members, are Mr. Dutton’s supervisors. We ask them to do their jobs and hold him accountable.

Bruce Desmarais

Susan Desmarais

Oak Bluffs