CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board expects to interview candidates for town treasurer/tax collector next week.
The board on Thursday decided to invite five candidates for interviews out of the 10 who had applied for the position.
"We will be in touch with the applicants and hopefully have them come in for next Wednesday night's meeting," said Chairman Ronald Boucher.
The board is seeking to the fill post after the resignation last month of Ericka M. Oleson, who had accepted a full-time position with the town of Stockbridge.
Officials are hoping to get someone in place as soon as possible. This would be the second member of its financial team it's had to replace in short order: new Town Accountant Angela Garrity has just started.
The board in full decided to review candidates, along with the town administrator, administrative assistant and the North Berkshire School Union's Assistant Superintendent of Operations & Finance Jennifer Macksey.
The candidates' applications had been numbered from 1 to 10 to avoid using names and ensure confidentiality. Open Meeting Law requires that discussion of finalists for municipal positions overseen by governmental bodies be held in open session but not screenings of applications.
Macksey questioned doing the review in open meeting, required because there was a quorum of board, and why an executive session had not been called. She said it was "wonderful" the entire board was involved but didn't think they could talk "collaboratively" as a group.
"I think it's good to narrow down the list but then we should go into executive session," she said. Her concern was that there could not be a robust discussion because the group could not reveal names or experiences to avoid identifying the candidates. "I feel bad for someone who applies for the position who's going to cut off and that may need to be disclosed in a public session. ...
"I mean, we can reference the numbers but I feel like we're talking in script."
Select Board member Danielle Luchi thought the use of numbers rather than names would preserve privacy. The board was trying to eliminate an extra step to streamline the process, she said.
"We're in a little bit of a time restraint with Ericka gone now and we have only three people who work here that can help out, covering her position," she said. "We did
want to streamline this and have this process, and this is how we thought the best way about doing that would be."
Boucher said they could set another meeting but added "we don't want to drag this out forever."
Macksey said she would go along with it but wanted to express her concerns. The members did a fairly good job at sticking to numbers although there were some slips in referring to he or she.
The group had been provided the applications to review according to the criteria that the Select Board had laid out for the position. It was obvious that several candidates were immediately at the top as the preferred numbers of the majority were 1,3 and 4. After some debate, 2 and 10 were added to the list.
The main experiences the group members expressed were the top candidates experience in municipal finance and banking experience, and to a lesser extent, human resource experience.
"What I was trying to look for is some kind of financial background, which, you know, this is not an average job," said Boucher. "If anything, there's not a lot of municipal experience by applicants that came in here. But I feel a little more comfortable if they had some kind of a sound financial background."
After some discussion, the group agreed on all five candidates, although Macksey thought five was too many. Candidates might not want their current employers to know they're seeking another job if their chances are that low, she said.
The board decided to go with five but to also contact them by email informing them that the position is 32 with benefits and the salary range of about $37,000 (this is for both positions). That would be followed up with phone call to see if they wanted to move forward to a public interview on Wednesday.
"I just want these people to understand [hours and salary] because if it doesn't fit their fancy, they may say 'sorry,'" said Boucher.
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