Stockbridge weighs interim admin; post to be vacated Wednesday

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STOCKBRIDGE — The Select Board has voted unanimously to name an interim town administrator within the next two weeks to ensure a smooth transition as the town works to find a permanent successor to Danielle Fillio.

Fillio has resigned to take the position as Richmond Town Administrator, where she hopes to find a more relaxed working atmosphere. A selection committee will be formed to help fill the void left by her departure.

Mark Webber, who retired as town administrator in West Stockbridge last month and in Cheshire last December, has offered to serve as interim administrator, said Chairman Terry Flynn at Thursday's meeting.

"He's willing and enthusiastic about delaying his full retirement to guide us while we carefully proceed with hiring a permanent town administrator," Flynn said. "He made it very clear he will not be applying for the permanent position. He would be helping us out for as long as it takes."

Webber, a municipal finance specialist with 24 years' experience in town government, worked effectively with Fillio and the town's Finance Committee as a consultant chosen by the Select Board in 2017 to help prepare the town budget, Flynn noted, after longtime Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden retired.

"He would not only be able to administer the town well but he would be a valuable resource for our selection committee," Flynn said. "Mark is a known quantity to a lot of us and it just happens that he reached out."

Webber and anyone else who has expressed interest in the interim post will be interviewed at a Select Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 22, Flynn told The Eagle on Friday. A decision will follow at the board meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 25.

At the board's Thursday night meeting, Flynn acknowledged that an extended search for a new permanent town administrator is needed to ensure a "very deliberate, professional, intelligent, informed" approach, with appointment of a strong search committee to create "a sensible job description, an analysis of our administrative needs and a careful plan for recruiting strong applicants."

For the interim post, he advocated appointment of a person with strong academic credentials and experience to be available for six to nine months.

"Hopefully, with an experienced interim town administrator, we will be able to return the town to peaceful and efficient ways and make Stockbridge once again an attractive option for applicants," he said.

"We need some time to settle and to heal, in a sense," Flynn said. "We need time to get input from lots of sources in town and from an experienced interim town administrator who can let the committee and townspeople know what he or she has seen in the whole job of the administrative office."

Obviously, we want to restore our image so people will want to work here," he said.

Selectman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo took issue with Flynn's comments.

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"It's not Danielle," he said. "It's the people that are still here."

But Flynn denied the suggestion that he was criticizing Fillio.

"I wish Danielle all the luck in the world and I think she has plenty to bring to Richmond or any town she's in, and we wish her the best," he said. "Danielle is not responsible for all the various things, deep controversies that have been coming up since 2012, and when we seem to get over one, there's another one. This is simply about using a careful process to go out for a town administrator."

Fillio is leaving July 17, reportedly by mutual agreement with the Select Board at a closed-door session on Wednesday. Her contract called for up to three months' notice before departing, and she had indicated a hope to serve for 30 more days.

"We were honoring Danielle's wishes," said Selectwoman Roxanne McCaffrey, under intense questioning from Cardillo and several residents. "She didn't want to stay for three months," Flynn added.

But Cardillo said, "it was decided to cut her off after July 17."

The public Select Board discussion was terminated because the board has to vote to release the minutes of last Wednesday's executive session, Flynn said. Fillio did not attend Thursday's open meeting because she was on a day off.

At the urging of Planning Board member Christine Rasmussen, Fillio was given a hearty round of applause for her work.

"We have not recognized that Danielle gave 10 years to the town," said Rasmussen. "She worked very hard, as far as I know, there were some conflicts, she deserves our appreciation and thanks."

Fillio was administrative assistant for 8 years before her appointment as interim town administrator and promotion to full town administrator in 2017.

Planning Board member Kate Fletcher urged the Select Board to quickly hire an experienced interim administrator and to "take care" in its search for a long-term administrator "to make sure we find the person who's right for this town, working together to make the right move."

"We do need to hire somebody as quick as we can and as best we can," Cardillo said. "We should be putting it out there and see what qualified people come in. We want to do it right."

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


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