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Michael Ouellette was concerned about limiting candidates by mentioning the desirability of a master's degree.
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The committee decided to leave in the master's degree language and to have members contact Town Administrator Jonathan Butler if they have questions about his duties.
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Chairman Jeffrey Grandchamp thought more public input in the job description would be helpful.
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Police Chief Richard Tarsa, left, thought it important that the next town administrator continue projects started by the current one.

Adams Panel Adds Development, Planning to Administrator Duties

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The committee in charge of vetting town administrator candidates have added economic development and strategic planning to the job's responsibilities.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Town Administrator Search Committee wants the next town administrator job to have a handle on economic development and planning for the town's future.

After looking over material given to them by the Selectmen, the committee on Tuesday night decided to make changes to the proposed job description for the person who will replace current Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, who is moving into the economic development area as president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Committee member Stephen Melito said he saw nothing in the material about economic development, and he felt it was an important element of the job.

"There is no mention of economic development in the questions that were asked last time or in the job description or anywhere else I can see," Melito said. "One of the attributes I would like to see is a commitment to economic development."

Committee member Erica Girgenti, director of the Council on Aging, agreed with Melito's statement and advised the committee also add strategic planning to the job description.

"I think strategic planning as an attribute is something that will be helpful to the town, and I think that along with economic development are two additional attributes we should work into this job description," she said.

The committee also discussed communication and decided it would be best for the selectmen to provide input on what they would like in the job description. The selectmen said they wanted the applicant to meet certain qualifications and have certain attributes but did not mention those to the Search Committee.

"We will pencil in proposed the changes to the job description and send it back to the Selectmen so they can look at it and use it for their reference," Committee Chairman Jeffrey Grandchamp said. "They can then send their comments back to us."

Melito said he would like to see community involvement in the process, and citizens could submit letters describing what they think should be in the  job description.

Girgenti agreed and said community input would help the process tremendously.

"I think it is a good idea; it gets the community behind the opportunity to take part in finding a new town administrator," he said.

The committee also discussed what educational requirements they should use in the job advertisement.

The town charter says the applicant must have three years' experience in a paid supervisory administrative position and a bachelor's degree. The committee felt it would be beneficial to say a master's degree is desired.

Committee member Michael Ouellette, a former selectman, felt that saying a master's degree is desired would limit the number of applicants.

"I don't want to turn anyone off with it though," he said. "The requirement is a bachelor's degree, and I don't think we should say it's desirable to have a master's degree."

Committee member James Brosnan said it was standard for professionals to work toward a master's degree and he didn't think it would affect candidate pool.

"It's a standard if you have a master's in public administration or business administration at that level. It's not precluding anyone from applying," Brosnan said. "When you enter a professional career you know as you go forward it is something you have to look at furthering your education. ... I think 'desirable' is an open enough word; it is not the word 'preferred.' "

Grandchamp said experience and education will be taken into account and adding the desire for a candidate with a master's degree will not turn away any serious candidates.

"If someone has been a town administrator in another town for three years they are not going to be particularly fazed by not having a master's," he said. "They are going to say, ' I know the job and I know how to do it,' but I think mentioning it would be desirable for the town."

The committee decided to add the desire for a master's degree in the advertisement.

The charter also states that an appropriate master's degree can eliminate needed experience time. The committee had no issue with this.

Brosnan said it may be beneficial to advertise that it would be more desirable if the candidate worked for three years in Massachusetts.

"If you get candidates from out of state, they aren't as familiar with municipal regulations, laws and finances in this commonwealth," he said. "I just have a few concerns if they are coming from out of state they have a serious learning curve."

Police Chief Richard Tarsa, also on the committee, said only two of the past town administrators were local, the rest were from other parts of the country. He was worried that saying anything about desired state experience could limit applicants.

Some committee members felt it would be beneficial to have Butler come to a meeting and answer questions so they have a better idea of what he does and what should be in the job description.

Tarsa said it is important to talk to Butler so they know what he would like continued of the many projects in Adams.

"We want to continue the projects he has been working on for the past five years," he said. "It has taken a lot of years to get where we are, and we want a candidate who will continue this work."

Ouellette felt it was "weird" to ask the outgoing town administrator any questions.

"We did not ask the outgoing town administrator anything when we hired Jonathan," he said. "I think this committee was chosen because we are in the know about what the heck is going on in town, and we know what the town should have."

(The last town administrator resigned under pressure.)

Melito said it would be beneficial because unlike Ouellette, many of the committee members were not selectmen and not as privy to how town administration worked.

The committee decided that those who have questions for Butler can ask him personally.

Tags: search committee,   town administrator,   

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