Outgoing Town Administrator Jonathan Butler recommended Donna Cesan step into his post until his replacement could be found.
ADAMS, Mass. — Director of Community Development Donna Cesan will serve as the interim town administrator when Jonathan Butler leaves to become chief executive officer of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce in September.
The Board of Selectmen approved Butler’s recommendation of Cesan during its meeting Wednesday night.
"I think that we are extremely lucky that Donna is willing to do this," Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said. "… She is very well qualified, and we are very fortunate to be able to have her fill in."
Cesan will begin to shadow Butler on July 28 so she will be ready for the position while the town searches for a new town administrator.
Cesan will continue her role as director of community development and will receive an extra $350 a week for her added responsibilities.
"We are adding a pretty substantial amount of work load to an already busy schedule,… and she will have a lot more evening meetings and obligations that will take her later into the day so I thought it was fair," Butler said. "…The town will obviously be saving a lot in the interim while I am gone because they won’t have somebody collecting a full-time salary."
Some of the selectmen showed concern that Cesan may not be able to give her full-time department the proper attention as she fills in as the town administrator.
"I had some immediate reservations with what’s on her plate already, but after talking with her she was very anxious to have the opportunity and felt it was something she could provide value to the town doing," Butler said. "She was willing to step up and add it to her already busy agenda."
He said community development will hire an additional person to help out with the work load. He added that fall is a slower season for community development so it is the perfect time for her to absorb more responsibilities.
Butler said he plans to formally give the board his letter of resignation sometime next week and that he will probably leave his post in Adams by the end of August.
"As long as the town stays on schedule to have a new town administrator by January or February I think Donna is more than capable of handling this," Butler said.
Harrington said those selected for the town administrator search committee have all been informed and will soon have their first meeting.
The board also approved to take $223,500 out of Chapter 90 funds to increase the Park Street project budget to $915,000 and chose J.H. Maxymillian Inc., the lowest bidder for the project, as contractor. The project will be developed as designed.
"This is the kind of project that everybody has their eyes on," Butler said. "Park Street affects everybody and … there are a lot of residents and business owners who want this done."
The project went out for rebidding because the two bids received were both over the $690,000 budget. With fear of delaying the project any longer, Butler felt the town had to increase the budget.
Butler said Adam's Chapter 90 funds are healthy, with $381,000 currently in the fund and another $291,000 expected from the state for this fiscal year.
Taking the money from the available Chapter 90 funds may delay a few projects that were scheduled for a much later date. He said at the most, they may be delayed six months to a year.
The board also awarded the library renovation project to Allegrone Companies of Pittsfield, which had the lowest bid of $664,720
In other business, the board revisited the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget and discussed changing the education model.
"It’s kind of counterintuitive in my opinion if we are laying off teachers, and we want people to come to our community because most people that are planning to relocate look at the education system,” Selectman Joseph Nowak said.
Selectman Richard Blanchard said Butler did reach out to the town of Cheshire, the school board, and the administration to get together to discuss the issue. He said there was only one response.
Butler added that population decline is the biggest issue because the towns receive less Chapter 70 money from the state when there are less kids in the schools. He said the education model must be altered because the towns cannot sustain the full weight of the schools.
He said that everyone has to work together to fix the problem.
"I do think Adams, Cheshire, and the schools district need to do this because if it is coming from the school district the community is immediately going to want to say no to what they propose," he said. "I think if it comes from a collaborative effort from he three major stakeholders here everybody will be in a place where they have to listen."