Mashpee Town Meeting May 6, 2019

Finance committee members Christopher Avis and Sylvester Ryan at Mashpee Town Meeting earlier this month

Christopher J. Avis, who has served for more than 10 years on the Mashpee Finance Committee, will not seek a new term.

Mr. Avis served has been on the committee since 2007, according to records in the town clerk’s office, and his current term ends this year.

“It’s been a good run, but it’s time to make room for some fresh blood,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, I enjoyed it, and hopefully I was able to get something done.”

Joining Mr. Avis in bidding adieu to the town’s volunteer financial advisory board is Sylvester Ryan, who has served since 2017. Mr. Ryan will end his tenure on the committee before his term expires next year. Although he could not be reached, committee members said that he has taken on new responsibilities outside of volunteering within town government that will take up his time.

With the two members stepping down from the finance committee, others have shown interest in serving on the committee. John W. Miller, owner of J. Miller Pictureframer Gallery in Deer Crossing, has considered joining the committee. Chairman Michael R. Richardson has said that another resident has considered joining as well.

While the committee may miss Mr. Ryan’s presence, the departure of Mr. Avis might have a wider impact on town government. Mr. Avis gained a reputation for his vocal criticism of the town’s finances, especially when it came to employee salaries, which make up the vast majority of the town’s budget.

Most recently, Mr. Avis, along with a few other committee members, combed through the town manager’s proposed budget prior to May Town Meeting looking at possible ways for the town to save. The working group came up with more than $1 million in potential savings, only to have the town administration vocally shoot back as to the impact the proposal would have on services.

The finance committee backed away from that proposal, but did offer an alternative budget that eliminated a proposed assistant director slot in the Department of Public Works. Town Meeting subsequently would side with the town administration’s proposed budget.

Mr. Avis acknowledged that the committee may have upset some people during the recent budget talks, but he said that that is the duty of the committee: advise the town on its finances.

“We asked some tough questions, but that’s what our job is,” he said.

While the recent discussion drew local media attention, Mr. Avis has scrutinized budgets in the past as well. Asked what his advice for potential new members on the board would be, he said to not be afraid to dig a little deep and ask the hard questions. The resident also said that potential committee members do not need a business MBA or to be an accountant.

He also noted that leaves the committee while the town is on solid, financial standing. Mr. Avis noted that the town has a AAA bond rating, the leadership is fiscally conservative, services are good, and the town has enough reserves for projects like the Quashnet Elementary School roof and other infrastructure projects.

Mr. Avis did not rule out running for office at some point in the not-so-distant future. He ran for selectmen two years ago, trying to unseat selectmen Andrew R. Gottlieb or John J. Cahalane, but lost the election. Mr. Avis said that he would likely not run in the next election, when Mr. Gottlieb and Mr. Cahalane’s seats will be up for reelection, but beyond that, he did not rule anything out.

In addition to Mr. Avis’s long tenure on the finance committee, he has many ties to the Mashpee community.

A resident of Popponesset, he attended the Samuel G. Davis School, now Mashpee Town Hall, for elementary school before attending junior high school at the Otis base in Bourne. He has had a career in sales at local newspapers, including the Enterprise Newspapers.

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