BECKET -- Twenty candidates have submitted applications to fill the town administrator position previously held by Craig Kleman, according to town officials.
A five-person screening committee has been appointed to narrow the pool down to three applications, which will be submitted to the Select Board. The Select Board would prefer to have an applicant in place before the May town meeting, according to interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg.
After going through two full-time town administrators since 2009, Select Board member Jeanne Pryor said she did not want to rush through the process. And she emphasized the importance of finding a candidate that would provide stability in town hall.
"We've had a couple that haven't worked out and we want the stability," said Pryor, who is also on the screening committee.
Former Town Administrator Richard Furlong served as town administrator from 1995 through 2009. Kleman and former Town Administrator Tony Blair have served in the last four years, along with two interim town administrators.
Kellogg said his contract is through June, but he said he'd be willing to continue working part-time, if needed.
Kleman left in December after Select Board members declined to offer a contract extension, citing concerns about his job performance.
But Kleman said despite his efforts to raise the level of expectation of employees, he was undermined because some town department heads would ignore his directives
According to recently released executive session meeting minutes from a Dec. 5 meeting about Kleman's appointment as town administrator, Kleman's job performance was satisfactory, but Select Board members Pryor and Bill Elovirta both expressed concerns.
Pryor disapproved of Kleman's handling of Hurricane Sandy preparations. She also said he was nonresponsive to town hall staff on problems and did not follow through on requests from the Select Board.
Elovirta, the former town police chief, said during a phone interview that he had gotten along with Kleman in his former capacity, but he did not approve of the administrator's management of town employees.
Select Board Chairman Mark Karlberg, who praised Kleman on his ability to get grants, suggested the board extend Kleman's appointment for six months to allow the administrator time to fix fractured relationships with town employees.
During the executive session meeting, Kleman had told Select Board members that employees with a problem with their working relationship should approach him with a corrective action plan.