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Clarksburg Town Administrator Search Stalled

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
02:00AM / Monday, April 07, 2014
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The Selectmen continue to be far apart on the choice of a town administrator.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The selectmen continued to be at loggerheads over the search for a town administrator.

The two members of the board have twice met since their first choice, John Sanguinet of Plymouth, withdrew his application after salary negotiations failed.

Selectman Jeffrey Levanos has argued that his second choice, Carl McKinney, should appointed; Chairwoman Lily Kuzia that other applicants should be given a chance.

The distance between the two was obvious on Friday night when Kuzia moved to adjourn the meeting over Levanos' protests.

"I'm not going to sit here and argue because I've made my decision," she said. "There's no sense in sitting here arguing."

Levanos said he wanted to at least "speak to the press" if Kuzia wasn't willing to listen.

At issue is the wording of the job posting, which calls for a bachelor's degree in public administration or related field "and/or" three years minimum experience in a senior supervisory role.

Kuzia believes the town's administrative assistant, Debra Choquette, should be given a courtesy interview, considering her years working at Town Hall, including twice filling in as interim town administrator.

She does not, however, have a college degree.

Levanos says ignoring the criteria for a degree means either reposting the advertisement or accepting unqualified candidates.

Kuzia also preferred another candidate from Great Barrington but Levanos objected that he did not have financial background.

"We're down to one person," he said, referring to McKinney, who was chairman of the Board of Selectmen until stepping down to apply for the town administrator post.

He also held out little hope that another qualified applicant would come forward — applications are being accepted until the job is filled — because of the post's $40,000 salary.

"They laughed at us, they hung up on us and you're still waiting for someone," said Levanos. "I'm saying we're in the trenches now and we need somebody right away."

Kuzia said she liked McKinney but did not feel she could appoint him because of the financial issues that dogged the town through his term as chairman and a belief that the board wasn't being kept informed of actions that had been taken.

The advertisement was a case in point, said Kuzia, because it was never shown to the full board.

"I am not basing my opinion on that ad, I'm basing my opinion on his actions," she said.

But Levanos said the town needed to get someone permanent in place, pointing out McKinney was well-versed in the town's needs. It wasn't fair, he said, to lay blame on McKinney when he, too, may not have known all that was happening.

"He's the only candidate we've got who meets the criteria," he said.

The board also heard a report from Town Accountant Christa Marsh on the Schedule A filing to certify the town's free cash. Marsh said the Department of Revenue had pointed out 20 errors, five of which required her to submit correction notations, which had been done.

Marsh said she also discovered a number of accounts that had funds in them, estimated at more than $20,000.

"There is no reason why we as a town should have all these accounts," she said. "No one knows why the accounts are there or where the money came from."

She was working with the state Department of Revenue to determine how town meeting could move some of the account into the general fund.


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