A vote to hire a certified public accountant to help Brookfield village officials navigate the 2006-07 budget process sparked a heated exchange between political rivals during the Brookfield village board meeting March 13.

The board voted 4-1, with one abstention, to hire Mark Tomassini at a rate of $125 per hour to help prepare the 2006-07 operating budget, which begins May 1. Trustees Catherine Colgrass Edwards, C.P. Hall, Kit Ketchmark and Michael Towner voted to approve the consulting contract. Trustee Linda Stevanovich voted against it, while Trustee Alan Dorobiala abstained.

Tomassini’s hiring follows the departure of former Finance Director John Dolasinski, whose resignation in late February Stevanovich described as a “dismissal” during the March 13 board meeting.

Dolasinski’s resignation followed in the wake of a report criticizing the state of the village’s computer and phone systems, for which the former finance director was responsible. The report highlighted the village’s disapproval of a former information services contractor hired by Dolasinski.

Dolasinski has since been appointed finance director of the City of Berwyn. The appointment by Berwyn Mayor Michael O’Connor has been criticized by a majority of Berwyn alderman, who have urged O’Connor to perform a candidate search.

Stevanovich, suggested that hiring a financial consultant was inappropriate, asking “why don’t we just bring Dolasinski back in? You’re wasting my taxpayer money. I think his dismissal was at the wrong time.”

She also pointed out that the village is paying Dolasinski a severance package of over $30,000 in addition to the new hourly fee for Tomassini’s services.

Ketchmark, a former VIP Party colleague of Stevanovich’s, responded, “I think the timing [of Dolasinski’s resignation] could not have come at a better time.”

Ketchmark, now a member of the majority PEP Party, pointed out that while Dolasinski was finance director, Brookfield’s financial audits were consistently late. He also criticized the lack of financial information given to board members during that time.

He defended Tomassini as someone who was “very qualified” and would complete the upcoming budget on time.

“For the first time in you-tell-me-when the board will have passed a budget before the beginning of the fiscal year,” Ketchmark said.

Stevanovich defended the work of the former finance director.

“John did the best he could with what we had to work with,” Stevanovich said. “I’m furious we fired John when we did.”

Ketchmark angrily fired back, “I don’t know how you’re so oblivious. John wasn’t doing the job.”

Village President Michael Garvey responded that Dolasinski had resigned and asked that Stevanovich amend her statement that he was fired. Stevanovich did so, but added that “everyone knows what it means” when village hall staffers resign after bitter election campaigns such as the one that brought Garvey into office in 2005.

Stevanovich also criticized Tomassini’s hourly rate, saying no other village employee is paid such a salary. Ketchmark pointed out Tomassini will be working 10 hours per week and that the hourly rate was in line with other village consultants, such as the village attorney.