Northfield to vote on stronger town admin.
NORTHFIELD — A special town meeting will be held to decide just what the town wants in a new town administrator.
Currently, the town administrator position holds little authority. That could change, though, if a new job description and pay rate are approved by the town.
When former administrator Thomas Hutcheson gave his notice in July, the Town Governance Study Committee asked the Selectboard for time to draft a new description before the town hired a replacement.
It’s been drafted and revised, and now it’s ready for special town meeting voters. The Selectboard Tuesday voted to support proposals for the new job description and an increased salary at a special town meeting tentatively scheduled for Dec. 9.
The salary will be determined by a recently formed committee. The governance committee suggested that it be raised $15,000 to $20,000 from the current $50,000.
Though the administrator would be paid more, the town could actually save money if the new description and salary are approved.
“We feel that any additional money spent on an administrator, the town would get back many times over,” said Barry Bordner, chairman of the TGSC.
For the past two months, the Selectboard has gotten a taste of what an experienced professional administrator can bring to town. Interim administrator Kevin Paicos and his 30 years of municipal experience have made an impression on the board.
“I obviously can see the benefit of having a more experienced professional serving us and the town,” said Selectboard Chairman John Spanbauer. “I think another $15,000 to $20,000 for someone with more experience would pay off by keeping the town out of trouble, pursuing grants, and using their contacts to move things forward. It would be money well spent.”
“I think we’ve all seen the difference with Kevin,” said Selectboard member Dan Gray. “He’s shown incredible knowledge and ability to run things accordingly. I am against the idea of increasing salary with money we don’t have.”
“I believe having a professional with more experience would save us money,” said Selectboard member Jed Proujansky.
“A good administrator should be saving the town their own entire salary,” said Paicos. “Ask them to document it. If they can’t pay their salary back at least one time over, something’s wrong.”
Paicos felt the increase proposed by the TGSC is enough to attract experienced applicants.
“I think you hit the nail right on the head,” he said.
Paicos said an experienced administrator should be well-versed in state laws, and would be able to answer many legal questions without consulting town counsel, thereby saving on lawyers’ fees.
Paicos also pointed out that simple grants from the town’s insurance agency could bring in $5,000 to $10,000, and a savings of $8,000 on an $80,000 policy. These grants are guaranteed by the insurer, said Paicos, but a less experienced administrator might not know they were available.
An experienced administrator can bring a lot to town. However, all that skill and know-how could result in job offers from other municipalities.
Paicos himself has been hired away from Northfield. He gave four weeks’ notice Tuesday, and his time in town will come up two weeks short of his initial 13-week contract. The board plans to offer the interim position to Joseph Kellogg, retired administrator of Sandisfield, with more than 30 years’ experience in towns around the state.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279