To the Editor

As Town Accountant for the Town of West Newbury, I worked with Tracy Blais over the course of 16 years (from 1993 to 2009). It was my job to ensure each department complied with the financial and regulatory procedures as outlined by Massachusetts General Laws, the Department of Revenue, and the general practices of the Government Accounting Standards Board. In all of those years, Tracy exhibited nothing but the utmost adherence to each and every aspect.

Tracy was given a “bad rap” by a certain few individuals using the “power of the press” (and plain old gossip) to try and discredit her. I would like to make it very clear that despite what others may claim, there was never, ever, any payment made to any employee or vendor that was not officially approved and signed off on by a department head, the Town Accountant (myself), and the Board of Selectmen. All three authorizations were always necessary for any expenditure.

As Finance Director, Tracy gained the respect and cooperation of every department in town. This respect for Tracy did not stop in West Newbury. As other area towns realized the many advantages of having a Finance Director/Department like that in West Newbury, they also adopted this model in their towns. Each Town shaped their new Finance Departments after West Newbury’s, and many new area finance directors often relied on Tracy’s expertise for assistance with developing these departments. She continued to be progressive throughout her years as Finance Director, developing legislation for the adoption of both a DPW and a Town Clerk/Town Counsel position in the town of West Newbury.

The Department of Revenue also obviously appreciated Tracy’s skills as a finance director, using many of her documents and spreadsheets as examples while conducting training sessions throughout the Commonwealth. As Town Accountant, I witnessed firsthand Tracy’s strict adherence to all DOR regulatory requirements. I believe the town’s strong financial standing at the end of her appointment speaks to that, as well.

Through her diligence and hard work, Tracy was able to obtain grants from various federal and state agencies. Over the years, she was able to procure over five (5) million dollars in grants and reimbursements.

The town of West Newbury should feel very proud in the knowledge that the finance director they had for 18 years was one of the best in Massachusetts, past or present.

Susan Yaskell

West Newbury

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