Sub-par reviews leave Barrington town manager on shaky footing

Tuesday June 26, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell has received his second sub-par employment evaluation in nine months, again raising questions about his status as the town’s chief administrator.

O’Donnell received a total of 64 points out of a possible 125, the equivalent of 51.2 percent. The score came in a compilation of surveys completed by the five-member Select Board.

The scores were released on Monday, and O’Donnell’s tally is actually slightly lower than the 67 points he received in September 2011.

O’Donnell scored lowest on customer satisfaction, receiving 10 out of a possible 25 points. O’Donnell’s highest marks came in technical competence, where he garnered 16 points. The other evaluation categories were management, supervision and leadership, and advice and information.

O’Donnell will be allowed to respond to the evaluation at the board’s July 9 meeting.

Board members declined to comment on the evaluation until O’Donnell they receive O’Donnell’s response, and board chairman Sean Stanton asked O’Donnell to hold off on commenting publicly on the review until he responds to the board.

"It’s important that we’re not finding out in the newspaper what’s going on," said Stanton. "I don’t want to be the last to know."

O’Donnell told The Eagle in October that he vowed to improve his relationship with the board, comments he reiterated in a letter to the board that was reviewed at a later meeting.

Following the previous evaluation, O’Donnell called the score a "wake up call." He vowed to improve his relationship with the board through greater communication. Since that time, O’Donnell has said he has done more to provide suggestions at meetings and periodic updates on projects.

The board agreed last October to hold off on any action and return to an evaluation of the relationship in three and six months. This is the first time the board has publicly addressed the issue since that time.

O’Donnell, hired in 2008, signed a three-year contract in April 2010 following performance reviews with scores equivalent to 90 and 84 percent, though those scores were submitted by a board with a significantly different makeup than the current one.

It’s unclear how the board will proceed with the matter. Removing O’Donnell from his position would require a majority vote from the board and the payment of a lump sum in compensation.


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