Conway lays off town administrative aide
Tom Spiro, Administrator Aide for the Town of Conway, requested a raise this year, but during the annual town meeting, residents rejected his request.
Photo by Kathleen McKiernan
Ginger Carrington of Greenfield and her six year old daughter Nataliah pick up some food for the holidays from the Center for Self Reliance on Osgood ST in Greenfield as Natasha Lowe and Nathan Page keep the shelves stocked with incoming donations.
CONWAY —After 7 1∕ 2 years working for the town of Conway, Tom Spiro, the town’s administrative aide, was laid off late Monday.
At the end of a brief Board of Selectmen meeting, Conway’s new town administrator, Edward MacDonald, informed Spiro that his job was eliminated and he was pink-slipped. The Board of Selectmen had left before the announcement, according to Spiro.
“(MacDonald) told me I was laid off because of the town’s restructuring,” said Spiro in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
The elimination of Spiro and his position is to make room for the town administrator job, a position town residents authorized the board to create at last May’s annual town meeting.
“Upon hiring a new town administrator, we decided a reorganization of administrative needs was needed,” Board of Selectman Rick Bean said. “The full-time administrator is something we were eager to have in Conway. Tom’s position seems somewhat redundant as far as the duties performed.”
In the dark
Since the board officially hired MacDonald, Spiro said he has been left in the dark.
“No one told me anything,” Spiro said. “(The board) kept me in the dark completely. They didn’t even have the fortitude to tell me personally themselves. They claimed when I asked Bean why they didn’t talk to me about the plans that everything was the new town administrator’s decision.”
Spiro suspected his fate for some time, but didn’t know when it would happen.
“They showed me the amount of respect someone not dedicated to the town deserves. Based on my 71∕2 years working for Conway and trying to do my best, the least they could have done is include me in the planning process, whether it included me or not,” Spiro said.
It has been a difficult year for Spiro, after town residents overwhelmingly rejected his request for a $3,500 raise this year at May’s town meeting. Instead, residents voted to create the $70,000 a year full-time administrator position. When the application period came up for that job, Spiro did not even submit his resume.
In late October, the board hired MacDonald, the former Chester town administrator, to serve as Conway’s first town administrator. Over the past few weeks, MacDonald has visited the town on Thursdays to learn the inner workings of the town office and town hall.
Spiro’s exit comes just before the start of MacDonald’s employment. He will officially begin his full-time, $52,000-a-year job on Monday.
Bean said MacDonald made the ultimate decision to let Spiro go. He referred any inquiries to MacDonald as the town administrator. MacDonald did not return calls for comment before press time.
Spiro will be compensated for two weeks plus his accrued vacation and sick time. The package is a promise made by MacDonald, Spiro said. It is not recorded in writing yet. Spiro was a part-time, 30-hour-per- week employee. He was paid a $27,982 salary.
According to the town’s job description for town administrator, there did seem to be an overlap of duties between what MacDonald would do and what Spiro had been doing. Those duties include attending selectmen’s meetings, monitoring activities in the town office, drafting policies, and writing grants. Both positions are responsible to the board.
Despite the overlap, Spiro said he had been told by the selectmen “to keep doing what I was doing.”
“Except all of my responsibilities were taken away from me. It was obvious the new town administrator would do a great deal of my job even though (the board) denied it,” Spiro added.
After Spiro’s departure and before Thanksgiving Day, the town office was quiet. Town staff did not wish to comment on the change of managerial leadership.
Highway superintendent retiring
Spiro is not the only town employee departing. Highway Superintendent Robert Baker will retire on Jan. 5 after 19 years. He will continue to serve as fire chief. Baker was not available for comment.
Bean said the town will advertise for the highway boss job on Monday. The salary will be determined.
“When MacDonald sits down on Monday, (the job posting) will be one of the first things he does,” Bean said.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268