Richard Pocklington, Brookline Finance Committee candidate
Office sought: Brookline Finance Committee – three seats, one-year term
Name: Richard “Rick” Pocklington
Address: 32 Russell Hill Road.
Years of residency: Just under two years. Originally from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Family: Married to Christina Pocklington.
Occupation: Software Engineer
Education: B.S. in math and physics from Principia College, M.S. in computer science from Michigan State University.
Political history: Filled a vacancy on the Finance Committee for the last six months.
Question 1: What is the Finance Committee’s role in making local government more accountable to taxpayers? What would you do as a member of the committee to increase transparency?
The Finance Committee verifies that the local government follows due diligence in making financial decisions. It also reviews how the town is spending the people’s money, making sure to flag any irregularities and to clarify them with the departments. The Finance Committee then communicates the financial state of the local government to the townspeople so that they can make informed decisions.
The first step towards increasing transparency is for the Finance Committee to clearly understand the budgets. If the committee doesn’t have a clear picture, they certainly can’t communicate it to others. This is accomplished by setting clear expectations for the departments about how they should plan and present their budgets. The Finance Committee over the past few years has made tremendous strides building relationships and developing a process for the local government to report its finances.
As a member of the committee, I would take that work to the next step by organizing the information, keeping historical records, and identifying trends. This would enable the committee to provide context and compare to past experiences when presenting the current finances to the townspeople.
Q. 2: Would you support a move to change the committee to a Budget Committee, which under the Municipal Budget Act, would give it the authority to set guidance in creating the annual budget? Why or why not?
I would support a move to change the Finance Committee to a Budget Committee in about two to three years. I believe that a Budget Committee is a more responsible way of managing a town. While there are many townspeople passionate about the town’s finances, they are often distracted by a child’s dance recital, a stressful work project, a sick pet, and all the other little things that compose our lives. A Budget Committee moves the responsibility of the financial decisions away from the general populace to a few trusted people dedicated to the job. Brookline is not yet ready for a Budget Committee. We need a vibrant pool of committed, knowledgeable volunteers to serve on the committee, a strong rapport between the committee and the town, well-established processes of how the committee does its work, and the townspeople’s trust in the committee. Sticking to these goals, a Budget Committee will be appropriate in two to three years.