WELLFLEET — Cameron Reiss Scott, the former head account clerk at Barnstable Superior Court, now has a longer commute to work from his home in Centerville, where he lives with his boyfriend and his goldendoodle. He started his job as Wellfleet’s treasurer on March 7.
He told the Independent shortly after being named to the position that he was “looking forward to learning everything I can and establishing a team” with his new colleagues.
Scott managed fiscal operations at the court for eight years. Now he is digging into the complexities of Wellfleet’s accounting. The treasurer is responsible for local revenue collections, cash management, payroll, investment of funds, management of debt service, and other municipal finance functions, according to the job posting on the Mass. Municipal Association website.
Scott replaces former Town Treasurer Miriam Spencer, who resigned on Nov. 30, 2021. At the time, Spencer cited high turnover of department staff and a lack of guidance as her reasons for leaving.
While Scott doesn’t know all the details, he has some idea of the well-documented troubles awaiting him in town hall. “I know what’s out there, but it didn’t deter me,” he said. “There’s still a positive outlook on the town’s future.”
Wellfleet town accounts have been a mess for years, though the problems became public only in the fall of 2020 when former Town Administrator Maria Broadbent fired Town Accountant Gene Ferrari. A few months later, a newly hired town accountant, Heather Michaud, discovered alarming discrepancies in the town’s books and asked that the fiscal 2020 audit include a management letter listing specific accounting irregularities.
The town’s longtime auditors at Powers & Sullivan then identified material weaknesses in cash management and internal controls and a $765,000 “unknown variance” in the books (there was no balance sheet or general ledger) that remains unresolved.
Broadbent resigned in April 2021 following an emergency meeting with the select board. Michaud also announced her resignation that week.
Scott told the Independent he has the experience to move the town forward and solve problems as they come up. Cash reconciliations were a big part of his job at the trial court, he said, and will be part of his job here.
“That’s probably the task that took the most time,” Scott said. He will also be partially responsible for updating the general ledger, which he said he has experience with already.
Many town officials pointed to Wellfleet’s transition to the VADAR accounting system in 2019 as a major contributor to the financial crisis. While Scott has minimal experience with the software, “I’m already working with the company and being trained,” he said. He’s started making transactions in that program.
“Software comes to me pretty naturally, so I’m not concerned about that,” he said.
Software transitions require attention to detail and were sometimes problematic during his time at the courthouse, he said.
“You have to check everything and make the necessary corrections,” he said.
Scott didn’t plan to go into municipal finance. His first job at age 15 was interning at a law firm in San Francisco, near where he grew up. “I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but that’s not where my heart was,” he said.
Scott moved across the country to attend Brown University, graduating in 2007 with a B.A. in business economics. He was a paralegal before switching to the finance side of the legal field.
“I have always been more of a numbers person,” he said. “When I was in Barnstable Superior Court, there was really nowhere else for me to go unless I moved to Boston again. That’s where the high-level finance jobs are. That’s what really got me to change my career path from a trial court to municipal government. I knew I had to look for an opportunity that I could grow into and grow from.”
He is finishing up a master’s in public administration at Suffolk University. Classes are Saturdays at Barnstable Town Hall.
Despite being from the West Coast, Scott said he has always been drawn to the Cape.
“Both sides of my family have been coming to Cape Cod for generations,” he said. His parents met working at the now-shuttered Fleming’s Restaurant in Chatham.
“Cape Cod always felt like home,” he said. “I even rooted for the Boston sports teams and not San Francisco teams growing up.”