ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen's personnel subcommittee has started to outline the town administrator search process and agreed it wants more selectmen involvement.
The personnel subcommittee met with interim Town Administrator and Director of Community Development Donna Cesan on Thursday to discuss the town's next move in finding a new administrator.
"This is my personal opinion and ... I think the board had a good balanced committee in 2014 but I think the process was rather divorced from the Board of Selectmen," Cesan said. "The board basically had nothing to do with the process until they had three candidates."
With the recent departure of Tony Mazzucco at then end of his three-year contract, the town is on the lookout again for a replacement.
In 2014, the Selectmen formed a search committee of town business leaders and department heads that gathered applicants, vetted them and narrowed down the pool to three candidates. The Selectmen conducted these three interviews at the end of the process and made their decision. Other than forming the committee, this was the selectmen's only other involvement in the selection process.
Subcommittee member and Selectmen Chairman John Duval agreed with Cesan and said he would like to participate more.
"I agree we need more input and some kind of involvement in the process," he said. "I think we can look at it a different way."
Subcommittee member and Selectwoman Christine Hoyt said it may not be as simple as sitting select board members on the search committee because it could trigger a quorum, making all meetings public. She said this is a concern because it would be hard to maintain applicant confidentiality.
Cesan said she would research other ways how to build in selectmen involvement.
Hoyt said although she was initially against hiring a consultant to aid in the process, a consultant could act as a stand-in for the board.
"I don't want to spend the money, but I feel a third party could almost act as our voice," she said. "I really don't want to spend the money, but I want to make sure we do this right."
Cesan said there may be different consultant options. Some consultants will do the entire search while others can help with specific parts of the search process.
"You could see what they offer. There is always the Cadillac that will come in and talk to the town employees and business leaders in town and come up with the candidate you want," she said. "Or you could find someone who only does a part of it. To me, it's a little hocus pocus anyways and is really just the luck of the draw."
She said the town could easily hire a consultant for $25,000 but could also spend $10,000.
The subcommittee agreed to speak to some consultants to see what they offer.
Cesan suggested that the subcommittee also review the town administrator's job description as it did in 2014 but nix the residency requirement of the job and perhaps only make it a preference.
"I understand the rationale, but I think, in my opinion, that is a huge turn off and I think it is rather archaic," she said. "I guarantee you have lost good candidates, people that already live in Berkshire County that have a made a commitment to the county."
Hoyt and Duval agreed it would be something to look at. Hoyt noted that the police are not required to live in town but in a certain radius and Duval said it may deter a local candidate that would be forced to uproot his or her entire family.
Duval said he thought it was important to find an administrator who would stay in the town and not leave for another community soon after hired.
Cesan said this may be easier said than done and is typical of the town administrator position.
"Town administrators by nature go from town to town to town," she said. "I know Jim Leitch served the town for like 12 years and that is unusual ... I agree it creates a disruption, but I don't think it is because people don't want to stay here once they find out about Adams. That is just not true."
The subcommittee will make decisions on the search process at its next meeting and figure out what it wants to recommend to the entire board.
Cesan said they should aim to hire someone by spring, early summer.
While on the discussion of job descriptions, Cesan suggested possibly combining the Department of Public Works position with the community development director position and reorganize the department.
"There is a lot of overlapping … for example I have done most of the transportation planning," she said. "I am not skilled in terms of telling you what plow to get but with the right structure, you could have that person."
Cesan said two "strong" employees could work under the community development director: one for planning and one for the DPW. She said this practice is common in Canada.
Current interim DPW director David Nuvallie plans to retire.
She added that rejigging her department and adding more employees, such as an economic development position, would free up the building inspector and allow the town to go after bigger grants.
"There are grants we cannot apply for because we don't have the capacity," she said. "We get a grant, but it is not a check that you can just add to town coffers. You have to do the work associated with the grant program that has to be done in a time frame. The more staff we have the more we can go for."
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Adams' Fallen Heroes Project Finds A Sponsor
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The "Banners for Fallen Heroes" project has found a sponsor.
The project, which will honor Adams' servicemen and -women killed while serving the country with a banner hanging from utility poles through downtown, caught the eye of Adams Community Bank and it has stepped up to cover the associated costs.
"This is a no-brainer for our hometown. We know there will be some press obviously but we're not looking for that. This was something that was just right to do," said President and CEO Charlie O'Brien at this week's Fallen Heroes committee meeting. "These people have served our country so well, so nobly. Once we got some of the details everything just fell into place. It was something we had to do. We're happy and honored to be part of this project."
Selectman James Bush is part of the group and had trouble believing what he was hearing when he got the call from Senior Vice President of Lending Maureen Baran.
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
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