WVN #534: 2 steps toward a new administrator
- Dear Wayland Voter,
The town has hired an interim town administrator and a firm to help in the search for a permanent replacement.
NOTE: Special Election Tuesday, Dec. 10, to fill the vacant Massachusetts Fifth District US Congress seat. More information:
INTERIM ADMINISTRATOR HIRED
The Wayland Board of Selectmen and Personnel Board continue to make progress towards finding a new town administrator. The selectmen voted unanimously to approve the employment contract of part-time interim town administrator Robert Mercier, effective immediately.
Mercier will work Monday, Wednesday and Friday, sharing the top position with John Senchyshyn until a replacement is hired. The contract calls for Mercier to be paid $2,000 per week, with no other compensation or benefits.
Town Building employees had the opportunity to meet Mercier informally Monday morning over coffee, and he was given a tour of town to help orient him to places that are likely to come up in conversation. He had his first department head meeting this week.
Mercier will attend all selectmen’s meetings, and his tasks will include preparing the document packets for those meetings. During Monday’s board meeting, he expressed enthusiasm for serving Wayland in this interim role. Mercier attended the Nov. 20 Special Town Meeting and called it impressive. He is a retired Massachusetts municipal manager, having served as an executive secretary, town administrator, and town manager. He has also been a Tyngsboro selectman.
Search Consultant Also Chosen
During the last month, the selectmen interviewed three consulting firms about assisting the board with the town administrator search. Monday night, after considerable deliberation with the Personnel Board, the selectmen ultimately voted unanimously to hire Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI) over the MMA Consulting Group, Inc. and the Collins Center.
MRI was founded in 1989 and is based in Meredith, NH. In the October 30 Response to Proposals, COO and VP Alan Gould stated that the firm “has been providing a full range of consulting services to towns and cities throughout New England for more than 20 years.” Recent and current work includes town administrator recruitments in Mendon, Monson, Seekonk, Lenox, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Leicester as well as town manager positions in Kittery, ME and Cromwell, CT.
MRI’s proposal included a detailed description of its five project team members, a proposed Scope of Work, five pages of recruitment references from Massachusetts and nearby states, numerous samples of customer feedback, an example of a published marketing message they helped a town develop, and a link to the firm’s website:
Several selectmen and Personnel Board members noted that Gould’s confident and enthusiastic demeanor at the Nov. 18 interview as well as the range of services provided were meaningful factors in their preference. Gould will be the lead consultant for this project.
The Dec. 2 selectmen’s meeting is available on WayCAM at:
Fast forward to elapsed time 00:12:45 for the Mercier contract discussion, then fast forward to 01:03:05 for the search consultant discussion.
Personnel Board Research
In preparation for their meeting with selectmen, Personnel Board members reported back Monday morning on their reference checks of all three consulting firms under consideration. They called nine Massachusetts towns (Ashland, Hudson, Burlington, Marblehead, Stoughton, Holden, Chatham, Hanover, Ipswich) that had used the firms’ services to find either a town administrator or a town manager.
Contacted officials gave solid endorsements of all three firms. The Personnel Board concluded that all three firms could do the job and left the decision up to the selectmen.
The Personnel Board learned that there were a few towns other than Wayland where a change in the composition of the Board of Selectmen was followed by the employment termination of the administrator/manager, causing political upset and news media interest. They found that successful senior management searches were conducted, involving search or screening committees ranging from five to nine appointed members, with diverse committee composition models, and including mechanisms such as public forums and surveys for receiving community input.
MRI’s proposal said the firm “works hard to understand the intricacies and uniqueness of each client’s organization, and then tailor the process to meet their specific needs and expectations.”
During Monday evening’s conversation, selectman Joe Nolan indicated that it would take six months to have a new town administrator on board. Others responded, hoping it would take more like three months. The consulting firms interviewed had estimated that it could realistically take up to 120 days.
For next week’s meeting, the selectmen hope to have a draft agreement with MRI to review. The Personnel Board is suggesting a few changes to the town administrator job description for clarity. There is no intent to suggest substantive changes that would require amending the state statute. The Personnel Board says the Town (through the selectmen) should have a clear message about what it wants in a town administrator.
-- Linda Segal
Thursday, Dec. 5:
Housing Authority, 7 p.m., 12 Bent Avenue, Bent Park Community Room. Agenda includes Stonebridge Habitat project
OPEB Advisory Committee, 7 p.m. Agenda includes preliminary report preparation http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_MeetingsCal/S01C23BB6-01C23BBA.0/AgendaOPEB12052013.pdf h
Conservation Commission, 7:30 p.m. Agenda includes West Plain St/OCP intersection improvements informal discussion
Sunday, Dec. 8:
Wayland Historical Society’s Annual Open House at the Grout Heard House from 2 to 5 p.m. Wayland 375 cookbooks will be available for purchase.
Monday, Dec. 9:
Wastewater Management District Commission, 6:30 p.m. Agenda includes executive session
Finance Committee, 6:45 p.m. Agenda includes preparation for selectmen’s hearing
Selectmen, 7 p.m. Agenda includes FY14 tax rate/classification hearing
Audit Committee, 7 p.m. Agenda includes questions about the committee’s possible roles
Community Preservation Committee, 7:30 p.m. Agenda includes discussion of possible proposals for the April 2014 annual town meeting, e.g. First Parish Church, Forty Acres Drive.
Wednesday, Dec. 11:
Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee, 7:30 p.m. Agenda includes various ongoing projects
Thursday, Dec. 12:
School Committee, 10 a.m.
Permanent Municipal Building Committee, 7 p.m. Agenda includes moving forward with DPW project, middle school roof leaks
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor