CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen on Tuesday voted to hire attorney Jeffrey Grandchamp to help during the town administrator search and looked toward hiring a consultant.
After solving some technical issues Tuesday and restoring sound to the remote meeting, the Selectmen officially appointed Grandchamp, who they hope will provide unbiased guidance in the town administrator search.
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV resigned earlier this month.
The board members agreed that they wanted to hire someone separate from St. John to help tie up some loose ends and assist in the search for his replacement.
Current Town Counsel Edmund St. John III is the former town administrator's father.
Grandchamp, who attended the meeting, gave a brief overview of what a town administrator search entails and said he served on two town administrator screening committees in Adams.
"It was in the capacity of a good citizen, but I am happy to pass on that experience," he said.
The process in Adams had used a series of essays and questions to conduct rounds of screening to shrink the applicant pool, he said.
Grandchamp said a consultant had been hired for one search and he felt that was helpful and created less work for town officials.
Selectmen in Adams did not serve on the screening committees. He said one was present during search committee meetings but was not a voting member. Mostly the committees consisted of residents, department heads, and community leaders.
Grandchamp said it was unwise to put a majority of selectmen on the committee because then the board would essentially be making the decision.
Selectman Robert Ciskowski was hesitant to give up this power.
"That has been a stumbling block for me to not see the applications and not being involved," he said. "In a town like Cheshire, I thought the selectmen would do it all, but I guess the times are changing."
Grandchamp said there are different ways to operate a screening committee with which Ciskowski may be more comfortable.
Other questions in regard to salary, a part-time versus full-time position, the actual search process, and the job description Grandchamp said could be easily answered by a consultant. Otherwise, the town could reach out to surrounding communities.
Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi and Selectmen Jason Levesque wanted to hire a consultant.
"We have limited staff here," Francesconi said. "We are a small town."
Grandchamp thought the town could tap into the balance of what was budgeted for the town administrator's salary to hire a consultant.
Levesque added that the town does plan to hold a special town meeting in the near future. He said this would be another opportunity to ask for funds.
Grandchamp went over his role going forward and thought the town would see two types of applicants: new administrators or ones looking to retire in the near future.
"I think you are going to get someone who wants to learn the ropes and start their career or someone looking to end their career and have a high quality of life living in Cheshire," he said.
Francesconi said she will make the search a regular item on the agenda and will reach out to the Massachusetts Municipal Association to inquire about a consultant.
In other business, the Selectmen hired Noelle Pandell to serve as an interim administrative assistant.
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