May 22 2018

Town Meeting Approves Funds for Town Administrator Search

By: Rich Hosford

Town Meeting voted to approve funds for the chance the Board of Selectmen will seek outside candidates to fill the Town Administrator position.


As reported on BNEWS, current Town Administrator John Petrin announced that he will retire in 2019. The exact date has not been set, but under his contract he can retire as early as February though he has stated he is willing to stay on longer to help the town with the search for his replacement and to be there for budget season if needed.


In March the Board of Selectmen voted to begin the search internally. However, if that process doesn’t produce the right candidate, they will need to look for outside talent. If they take that course, Petrin strongly advised the board to hire a consultant as the hiring process is rigorous.


The money for that consultant was the subject of questions at Wednesday’s Town Meeting session.


“$20,000 seems like a lot of money to run what I’d think is public advertisements,” member Joan Kennedy-Constant said. “Can you explain why you would need it?”


Petrin said there are basically five search firms that do the work of finding, vetting and recommending candidates for Town Administrator and Town Manager positions and the standard cost for their services is between $12,000 and $15,000. He said there are also costs for advertisements in association group publications and travel expenses for finalists.


Petrin added that at this time a consultant firm is more important than usual due to the relatively high number of openings in the state.


“Six communities have retired or retiring town administrators so the market is soft for qualified candidates,” he said. “Right now it is about recruitment.”


He also explained that because potential candidates don’t want to throw their hats in the ring unless they are reasonably sure they have a chance of getting the job, due to the fact that it is a public process, a consultant works as an intermediary for the town early in the process.

“Consultants are also a great buffer,” Petrin said. “If you don’t have one, candidates can be hesitant to apply. The list of finalists is released to the public so if you aren’t chosen you have to go back to manage your community and they will know you looked somewhere else.”


Finally, he said the $20,000 is a maximum amount the board is allowed to spend on the process. If they end up spending less the leftover will be put into Free Cash.


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