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Cheshire to Budget for Full-Time Town Administrator

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen agreed to enter an $85,000 salary into the budget to hopefully hire a full-time town administrator.
The board members finalized some elements of town administrator job description this week and agreed to move from a part-time town administrator to a full-time person.
"There is a lot in town that that needs to be done," Selectman Ronald DeAngelis said. "Our departments just don't have time to get it done ... full time can save the town a lot."
The last town administrator was hired in a part-time capacity and through his time in the post, the Selectmen realized they may need to start looking to increase the position. 
Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber said he first programmed a $75,000 salary into the budget but noted this was still on the low side if they wanted to hire a full-time administrator, which he thought was a good idea.
"This is not a part-time job and you got away with it for a long time because you had someone that was experienced," Webber, who filled the post in Cheshire for nearly 10 years, said. "It just worked out. You are blessed with some very active folks and it worked. But you can't assume it will always work."
DeAngelis said many of the part-time town employees go beyond their job descriptions. He felt a full-time town administrator would be able to pick up on a lot of the planning, purchasing, grant writing, and other things the limited staff are currently doing.
The Selectmen quickly agreed they wanted to bump the position up from 32 hours to 40.
The decision is dependent on town meeting approving this salary line item. Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi was concerned that $80,000 would not be enough.
Webber said if the new town administrator wanted $84,000, the Selectmen could likely find that in the budget. Anything more than that might be too big of an ask.
"You can find another $4,000 in the budget," he said. "If they want $110,00 then the world has gone crazy. I am cheap like you guys but let's go bold."
Webber suggested bumping the salary up to $85,000.  
Once the town posts the position, a screening committee will review applications. The hope is to wrap up the process this summer.
In other business, the Selectmen agreed to a May 1 date to reopen town buildings.
Francesconi said with COVID-19 seemingly on the decline, she wanted to start thinking about reopening. She said because town staff is still mixed on a full reopening, she suggested the May 1 reopening be by appointment only.
She said sanitary practices and mask-wearing would still be required.
Francesconi said there is still a lot of work going on within the building so the May 1 timeline would work out.
Selectman Mark Biagini was the only one to vote against the reopening date. He felt he needed more timely data before making a decision. 
"The only way I can decide is how many cases we have in town," he said. "I need updates; I need to know what is going on ... I think just opening the building is putting people at risk."
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Cheshire Town Meeting to Vote on Appointing Clerk, Tax Collector

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Updated with corrected quote from the Town Clerk and clarification from the Select Board Chairwoman
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will move toward making the town clerk and tax collector positions appointed instead of elected.
During a budget discussion Tuesday, the Selectmen voted to place an article on the town meeting warrant that would change some town clerical positions from elected to appointed.
The discussion arose from Town Clerk Christine Emerson's budget presentation. She added in a $10,000 line item to hire an assistant who she can train to replace her in the three remaining years she wishes to work.  
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