By Jim Sullivan
---- — AMESBURY — Mayor Ken Gray will officially announce the city’s new chief financial officer and director of community and economic development to the City Council tonight. Both men have previous experience in Carriagetown.
“We’re pleased to have two candidates with proven track records not only in municipal government, but specifically right here in Amesbury,” Gray said. “These are two extremely important positions, and they will be filled by individuals who have already proven themselves through their service to our community.”
The city will lose Mike Basque, its chief financial officer of 26 years, next month. Basque is retiring in July after 36 years of municipal government service. His replacement, Chuck Benevento, brings with him over 28 years of experience, most recently as Haverhill’s finance director/city auditor.
“We are thrilled to have Chuck on board,” Gray said. “I think his experience and his professional accomplishments speak for themselves.”
In his position in Haverhill since 2003, Benevento has more than 30 years of experience in finance, beginning when he was a student at Boston University, working in the school’s accounting office. He eventually worked his way up to the position of BU’s supervisor of General, Grant and Contract Accounting. In 1986, Benevento began a 12-year stint in Amesbury as finance director, town accountant and MIS director.
“(Amesbury) was a good place to work the first time,” Benevento said. “I hope it will be again. Here’s the weird thing: When I came here the first time, I was replacing Mike Basque, and I am doing it again. When he retires, I don’t have a choice. It’s like karma, I have to replace him.”
The Lynn native eventually became the finance director for the city of Chelsea in 1998 before moving on to become North Andover’s director of finance for three years in 2000.
“I’m happy to help. I have never not been involved,” Benevento said. “I hope I can bring some things that I have seen. I think we can look at some processes and see if there is anything that we can do. I have seen a lot of things.”
New head of Community and Economic Development
Currently the Community and Economic Development deputy director, Bill Scott was brought to Amesbury a year ago to work with outgoing director of Community and Economic Development Joe Fahey, who is leaving his full-time post after 34 years of service.
Scott has been obtaining grants for numerous communities for more than 25 years, beginning with a six-year tenure in Newburyport in 1989. There, he assisted the Firehouse Center’s project manager and re-established the CDBG program, acquiring nearly $2.7 million for housing rehabilitation, social services and job training.
Scott also coordinated improvements for the Cashman Park ramp and fish pier, while securing over $1.8 million in funds for the Newburyport police station.
“When I was in Newburyport, (Fahey) was (in Amesbury),” Scott said. “We used to compete for grants against each other. I would always check up and see what he had and things like that.”
Scott moved on to North Andover for five years beginning in 1996, where he served as the project manager for youth and senior centers. Scott established a Master Plan and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plans for North Andover as well, before becoming community development director for the town of Salem, N.H., in 2001. For that town, he obtained grant funds to retrofit three fire stations with LED lighting, instituted a computerized traffic system and managed the creation of a fiber network for municipal buildings to eliminate T1 networking costs.
“Bill has a wealth of knowledge from his many years in municipal economic development,” Gray said. “He has quickly demonstrated his value to Amesbury and to helping the city move positively toward achieving our goals.”
A Newburyport resident, Scott welcomed his return to the Massachusetts planning environment last year and has already helped to spearhead the adoption of Gray’s new TIF program. Scott also worked closely with the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce to obtain funding for the wayfinding community sign program, and has continued to develop the current fashion retail zoning proposal for the Golden Triangle.
“Right now the Golden Triangle is a great opportunity for fashion retail,” Scott said. “We are trying to be very strategic, so we are all for use that has a very high market value. The TIF is an inventive approach that can help leverage private dollars, so strategically we’regoing site by site and finding the opportunities and constraints. That is really the exciting part.
“When I took the opportunity as deputy director last year, I was really looking for something like Amesbury in the sense that there is a lot of opportunity for downtown redevelopment as well as redevelopment in the Golden Triangle. I really liked the challenges that the community presented.”