Stockbridge narrows its list to three finalists for town administrator

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STOCKBRIDGE — A group of veteran municipal leaders has recommended three finalists to be interviewed by the Select Board to succeed Jorja-Ann Marsden as town administrator.

Selected from a field of seven semifinalists, the finalists are:

• Lenox Town Manager Christopher J. Ketchen, though his interest is limited to a shared-services arrangement since he is staying on in his current position.

• Susan M. Carmel, former Pittsfield director of finance and city treasurer until last January, and previously Lenox town accountant.

• Heather M. Burewicz,the current town administrator in Southampton.

The so-called Vetting Committee appointed by the Select Board to winnow down the applicants from nine recommended by a separate search committee of townspeople included Lee Town Administrator Robert Nason, Dalton Town Administrator Kenneth Walto and the former town manager of Williamstown, Peter Fohlin, who recently served as interim administrator in Richmond.

The group of nine recommended by the local searchers was reduced to seven when two of the semifinalists dropped out of consideration. Twenty-seven applicants responded to the initial posting of the position after Marsden announced her retirement last winter following 20 years as town administrator and 31 years in local government. Her last day was July 15.

September interviews

The Select Board is not expected to interview the finalists for her job until well into September because of members' vacation schedules.

Ketchen noted that he had written to the Stockbridge Select Board recommending that the members discuss possible shared management of the town.

"But that discussion has not happened," Ketchen said in a brief interview on Wednesday. His Lenox contract runs until June 30, 2018, having been extended by the Select Board last year. His original contract was approved in spring 2014 and he started in April of that year.

Carmel, a Pittsfield resident, could not be reached immediately for comment. After serving since April 2005, initially as city accountant, in the mayoral administrations of James Ruberto and Daniel Bianchi, she was among three department heads replaced by Mayor Linda Tyer last January.

Budrewicz began work in Southampton in March 2014. Last year, she was among five finalists for a town administrator post in Rutland, a small community near Worcester.

Previously, she was assistant city clerk in Haverhill from 2011 to 2013, then became acting city clerk. She has a law degree from Massachusetts School of Law.

As approved by Stockbridge annual town meeting voters on May 16, the town administration post will pay up to $110,000 a year.

27 applications

The town's citizens committee, chaired by Bronly Boyd, sifted through the first wave of 27 applications and ranked the candidates primarily according to their educational backgrounds and work experience. Of the original nine semifinalists the committee listed, three were from Berkshire County, one from Maine and the rest from elsewhere in Massachusetts.

The search procedure had been approved unanimously by the Select Board on May 9 before Charles Gillett retired and Don Chabon took his spot, having run unopposed in the annual town election on May 17.

Last month, Chabon presented a motion to broaden the administrator search and to consider the list of finalists provided by the Vetting Committee as advisory. But after objections were raised, he modified it by asking that the committee provide five candidates as finalists. That motion passed, 2-1.

The job posting in April acknowledged that discussions are underway with Lee and Lenox to explore a potential shared management. But those discussions have been on hold while the state Department of Revenue and the state Ethics Commission work on a clarification of the law regarding possible conflicts of interest that could arise if a manager works for two or more towns.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said earlier this week that the language clarifying the issue is near completion and that a required approval by the state legislature could be scheduled during an informal session later this month or next month.

The ad for a Stockbridge leader called for "a community-oriented administrator with strong leadership, communications and presentation skills. Ideal candidate requirements include at least seven years experience in municipal leadership positions, with emphasis in finance and public administration, familiarity with human resources issues and preferably, a master's degree in business administration, public administration or finance."

It continued, "We seek a candidate who will perform the duties of the position with integrity and transparency, and who will demand the same from his or her staff."

Although the job description included the expanded powers for the town administrator approved by the Select Board late last winter, annual town meeting voters in May adopted a citizen's motion by resident Terry Flynn to weaken those powers, reserving key decisions such as procurement contracts as well as hiring and firing actions to the Select Board.

The members of the local Screening Committee of townspeople included Boyd, the board chairman of Boyd Technologies and a trustee of Berkshire Health Systems; Stephanie Bradford, former Stockbridge business owner; Phyllis "Patti" Klein, a retired attorney and human resources specialist; Marie Raftery, the town's representative to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and a recently appointed Planning Board member; and Peter Socha, a longtime Stockbridge sewer and water commissioner employed as buildings supervisor for the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood facilities.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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