STOCKBRIDGE >> Town leaders are launching a search for a new town administrator while discussions continue on a possible shared-services arrangement with Lenox Town Manager Christopher Ketchen.
After 31 years in local government, Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden is retiring as of July 15. She has been town administrator since 1996, was town clerk from 1985 to 1997, and also has served as assistant collector and assistant treasurer.
"Even though we're having some discussions about shared town administrators, that is not a given by any means," said Selectman Stephen Shatz at a recent meeting. "Our feeling is that we need to begin a search process. We may interrupt that at some point."
The position will be advertised, listing the qualifications sought by the town, based on a previous votes to expand the powers of the town administrator.
Additional qualifications involving municipal financial experience will be needed because "that's critically important," Shatz said.
"It's key, going forward," agreed Select Board Chairman Charles Gillett.
A five-member volunteer committee will sift through applications, comparing them to the advertised qualifications, and winnowing them down to about 10. The local residents on the committee are Bronly Boyd, Stephanie Bradford, Patti Klein, Marie Raftery and Peter Socha.
Then, three currently serving or former town managers in Berkshire County will be asked to do a final examination of one or more finalists and report back to the selectmen.
Shatz said the search procedure is based on conversations with other town managers in the area. Among its advantages, he said, is "that we're not going to spend $25,000 to do it, and it's a relatively short process."
"Also, it gets us the benefit of having more well-qualified people to ask the questions, based on their experience in the position," he added.
The details will be finalized at Wednesday's Select Board meeting.
Because of Marsden's impending retirement and Lee Town Administrator Robert Nason's intention to step aside by June 2017, the tri-town committee exploring shared services has been considering a potential joint leadership arrangement, initially between Lenox and Stockbridge.
The Administrative Review Committee set up by the three towns is scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Lee Town Hall to continue discussions. Representatives of the state Department of Revenue are expected to attend as they begin a study on the financial impact of possible shared services arrangements.
The study is expected to continue for four to six weeks and will include visits to the three town offices and meetings with municipal employees, Ketchen said.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.