Stockbridge administrator search gets in gear

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STOCKBRIDGE — A fast-track search for a new town administrator is lifting off from the launching pad.

"I've developed a draft timeline so you can get me out of here," interim Administrator Mark Webber told Select Board members recently amid laughter. "It's a little aggressive, but I think it's doable," he said.

The search committee chaired by longtime resident Bronly Boyd, board chairman of Boyd Technologies in Lee and of Berkshire Health Systems, will hold its organizational meeting on Friday.

The group will review Webber's proposed job description and advertisement for the position vacated by Danielle Fillio last July. Fillio is about to wind up her first six months as town administrator of Richmond.

Webber aims to post the opening on Feb. 3, with a deadline for applications on Feb. 20, to be followed promptly by a search committee review of the candidates.

Boyd, praising Webber's management skills in his temporary post at the Town Offices, told The Eagle he expects that the town will attract quality candidates.

A salary has not been specified, but Fillio was earning $75,000 when she left.

By March 19, according to Webber's proposed timeline, the committee would perform "due diligence" on the applicants and present the Select Board with up to three semifinalists to be interviewed in public.

Then, the Select Board would discuss and vote on a selected candidate on March 26, to be followed by contract negotiations.

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The new town administrator would begin work around the second week of April, with Webber staying on for another month in a transition leading up to the annual town meeting on May 18.

The goal is to introduce the selected town leader to the public at the annual meeting.

Members of Boyd's search committee are former Select Board member Chuck Gillette, Town Clerk Terri Iemolini, lifelong resident Doug Goudey, Marion Gardner-Saxe, retired human resources director of the Boston Symphony, and local resident Terry Shea.

Webber, 64, started as the interim administrator last August. He had just retired after 21 years as part-time town administrator of West Stockbridge, and in early 2019 he had resigned from a similar post in Cheshire.

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He has described Stockbridge as a highly attractive community, pointing out that the town "has been, and is, the envy of many communities with a favorable tax rate, a fine bond rating, excellent staff and the physical beauty."

The tax rate for Stockbridge in fiscal 2020, $9.87 per $1,000 of assessed property value, is a 26-cent reduction from the previous year. The town's rate is the eighth lowest among the county's 32 cities and towns. Stockbridge maintains a AA+ bond rating from Standard & Poor's, the second-highest level, and has about $2 million available in free cash and stabilization reserves.

Webber also has saluted the "very engaged and thoughtful Finance Committee, so that's a plus, along with an engaged citizenry, and that's not necessarily a bad thing."

Although the job description for a new administrator is not yet public, the Select Board's contract with Webber offers multiple clues, pointing out that his essential tasks are to be performed "under the general direction of the board."

Among them:

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- Act by and for the board in any assigned administrative affairs

- Prepare annual and special town meeting warrants, motions and board meeting agendas, making sure records of all public meetings are maintained

- Advise the Select Board and town departments of any issues requiring official action, make recommendations and carry out board decisions where appropriate

- Serve as the town's chief procurement officer for all contracts and payments

- Handle employee relations and personnel matters and "provide recommendations to the Board for personnel actions under its authority"

- Prepare and administer all department budgets under board supervision

- Manage the special permit process for the board

Other tasks assigned to Webber include risk management, such as workers' compensation, property and liability insurance cases; overseeing all town grants, except for Police Department; consulting and connecting with all town boards, commissions and committees; and maintaining records and providing updates on town administrator office activities.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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