The Selectmen on Wednesday discussed a transition plan and search for a new town administrator.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen held a workshop meeting Wednesday night to solidify the first steps in a town administrator transition plan and the formation of a search committee.
"The sooner we move on it the better we are going to be when we have to fill the position," Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler informed the board a two weeks ago he would not be staying beyond the end of his contract in 2015, and there was a possibility he could leave earlier if a suitable position arose.
The board agreed to appoint someone to shadow him. If Butler finds a job and has to leave his position early, the board felt that it was critical to have someone ready to fill in as the interim town administrator.
Although Butler said he would give the selectmen a few months’ notice if he was going to leave early, the board members decided they should be ready just in case
"My feeling is 'shame on us' if we don't plan for this," Harrington said. "Even if we don’t need someone to fill in we should have somebody ready … so we are ready for it whenever it happens."
The board agreed that it would be best to bring in a current town employee to shadow Butler.
"I would look for someone who is a department head or who is on staff that Jonathan would be comfortable with, and who we would be comfortable with for the transition plan," Harrington said. "I think the advantage of having someone who is already in the system is they understand how the town runs and the system we use here,… and if you get somebody from the outside it will take longer to get them up to speed."
The internal employee would not receive a pay increase unless he or she worked more hours. If Butler must leave early, the board said it would need to find money to hire the interim town administrator full time. Although this would secure the town administrator position for the time needed, the selectmen shared concerns about the department the interim town administrator would be leaving.
If there are no viable candidates that are interested in the position or who can do it, the selectmen said it is possible they would have to hire someone externally to shadow Butler. They feared that this would be a longer learning process because the outside candidate would not be familiar with the town. This would also cost more money that may have to come out of emergency funds.
Although the selectmen preferred internal applicants, they felt it was important to contact possible external candidates just in case.
"I don’t think any of this is going to be perfect, and worst case scenario is in three months from now Jonathan is gone," Selectman Jeffery Snoonian said. "Nothing is going to be perfect and it's better to find the devil that we can live with."
The Selectmen agreed to ask Butler who he thinks would be best for the job and they plan to have a list of names by next week's regular meeting.
In addition to the transition plan, the board discussed some of the initial parameters of the Town Administrator Search Committee. The Selectmen decided to have a seven-member board.
"I think it is very important that we have a good blend of people who are going to be on this search committee," Selectmen Joseph Nowak said.
The Selectmen decided to open up the committee to anyone interested. All applicants can email or write a letter to the town explaining why they would be a good addition to the committee. The selectmen will pick two or three applicants a piece. With 10 or 15 applicants, left they will rank them each individually and pick the seven with the highest score.
The Selectmen will officially announce the vetting process during its next meeting with a job description for the committee.
The plan is to have a transition plan with an interim town administrator selected as well as a completed search committee in a month.