LOWELL — In an effort to attract a diverse applicant pool, the job posting for the city auditor position will be translated into multiple languages.
The request by City Councilor Karen Cirillo received some pushback from City Councilors, but ultimately passed 8-1 Tuesday night. Councilor Rita Mercier voted against the proposal.
"Could we have it in Khmer, Spanish, Portuguese?" Cirillo said. "We have a vibrant community and I want to make sure that this is seen and understood by everyone in the community."
Councilors Rodney Elliott and David Conway questioned the request, saying any candidate for the city auditor position would need to be fluent in English to communicate with the English-speaking City Council.
"Most employees of the city are not bilingual or tri-lingual," Elliott said. "So in my opinion I don't want to hold this up because we're posting it in another language, because we're very well aware this (position) requires to be able to speak, in my opinion, quite fluently English."
Current Auditor Bryan Perry is leaving June 19, before the close of the fiscal year, a traditionally busy time for the auditor's office.
"The biggest challenge right now is essentially getting the FY20 (budget) open as of July 1 so the city can continue to run as smoothly as possible," Perry said. "And that's one of my priorities. I've given my staff all my contact information. ... The hard close of the current fiscal year ... happens near the end of the summer and that's going to be a little more involved, I believe."
In the crunch, City Manager Eileen Donoghue told City Council the job could be posted Wednesday morning, with translations posted later. Human Relations Manager Mary Callery said the job description will be sent out on a number of platforms, including local non-profits with connections to minority communities.
The job posting will be translated through the elections office. City Solicitor Christine O'Connor could not provide a cost estimate Tuesday night, but said she does not "anticipate it would be terribly costly."
The position will be posted for three weeks and offer a between $100,000 and $113,000 salary.
Perry was budgeted to receive $105,918 this year. He was hired in 2016 following a six-month search process, during which the council turned away two other candidates deemed not qualified enough. Councilor James Milinazzo said the position is budgeted for $112,645 next fiscal year.
Perry starts his new position as the town finance director in Wilmington on June 24. His salary is $121,192 next year, according to the town's human resource department.
His departure is one of several recent exits among Lowell officials — including Director of Elections Eda Matchuk and Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Gunther Wellenstein — to smaller communities.
"I think that the City Auditor Bryan Perry has done a great job with the city during the time that he's been here," Councilor Ed Kennedy said. "I've always found him to be very competent, very cooperative. He gave back and I'm really sorry that he's leaving."
City Councilors will make the final hiring decision and review applications following the three-week posting period. In the meantime, the councilors plan to fill the position with an interim auditor.
Robert Healy, the former Cambridge city manager, served as an interim auditor during the last hiring process. A motion to first offer the interim job to Healy, if he is interested, failed 2-7 with only Kennedy and Cirillo in support.
Councilor John Leahy said the city should first offer the interim position to people in the auditor's office. Kennedy said he believes no one in the office is interested.
"I'm pretty certain there is no one in the office who would be willing to take it on at this time," Kennedy said.
Councilors are expected to meet next week to review recommendations for an interim auditor.
Also at the meeting Tuesday night, City Council:
• Approved fiscal year 2020 budget appropriations.
• Approved fiscal year 2020 capital improvements loan order.
• Approved a $67 million wastewater capital improvement loan order.
• Approved a $45 million water enterprise capital improvement loan order.
• Amended an ordinance for a Lowell Police Department training account revolving fund.
• Heard an update on the homelessness task force.
• Heard the state of the city presentation.
• Appointed Greg Studwell to the sustainability council.
• Reappointed Philip Shea to the Lowell Housing Authority.
• Accepted a $1,000 gift to the health department from Circle Health Lowell General Hospital.