Brattleboro hires town finance director

Jaeger brings experience from higher education, municipal government, and business

BRATTLEBORO — Andre Jaeger, who will start his job as finance director on May 20, will bring to the position experience working in the private, municipal, and higher education sectors.

Town Manager Peter Elwell said that Jaeger joins the town after serving as Keene State College's budget director. According to Elwell, the college eliminated the position on May 1 as part of a staff-reduction and restructuring process.

Jaeger steps into his new role during an uncertain time for the community, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the May 5 meeting, Elwell outlined for the Selectboard how the state's response to the pandemic has impacted the town's finances.

At this early stage, it appears the town will end the fiscal year close to breaking even, with about $500,000 less in budgeted revenues offset by an equal decline in anticipated expenses.

It's still uncertain as to which side of the line the town's fiscal year will end on June 30, with a slight deficit or a slight surplus.

Elwell noted, however, that while Jaeger will join the town during a time of abnormal finances, he expects the new hire will still recognize the town's financial processes.

The numbers might be volatile right now, Elwell said, but the town's “manner of doing business” is not.

“We are grateful to have attracted someone of Andre's caliber for such an important position in town government,” said Elwell, who noted that several other experienced financial managers were among the 22 applicants for the position.

“Even with a strong field of applicants,” said Elwell, “Andre stood out as being especially well qualified in terms of both his prior work experience and his commitment to transparency, accountability, and innovation in mission-driven organizations.”

Elwell added that during the interview process, he appreciated Jaeger's commitment to working for organizations whose the bottom line supports people.

Town employees measure success by “how we all work together to serve the community,” Elwell said.

Prior to working at Keene State, Jaeger had three years of experience as a tax associate with the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers and 16 years of audit and financial management experience with private companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including six years at the headquarters of C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene.

He earned a B.A. in economics and accounting from the University of Massachusetts and is a certified public accountant in Massachusetts. He also is a certified internal auditor, certified information systems auditor, and certified fraud examiner.

“Having lived in Keene for almost a decade, I am familiar with Brattleboro and look forward to serving that community,” Jaeger said.

He added that he feels “grateful to be joining a stable team where the objective will be to take something good and improve it, rather than having to fix something that's broken.”

The town has operated without a finance director since John O'Connor retired on Feb. 25. Finance Department staff have managed the office's daily operations, while a multi-state private accounting firm, Melanson Heath, has been providing interim services and oversight.

“I'm grateful to Laurie Garland and her colleagues at Melanson Heath for providing excellent oversight to our financial operations, especially during the uniquely challenging time of COVID-19,” said Elwell.

He also thanked the town's Finance Department employees “for going above and beyond to keep operations running smoothly in between finance directors and during COVID-19.”

Alluding to this being the town's second search for O'Connor's replacement, Elwell said, “Andre will be worth the wait, and we are all eager to have him here on our team.”

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