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Northfield OKs strong administrator

NORTHFIELD — A strong town administrator will be at the lead of the town hall from now on.

At a special town meeting Monday night, the majority of townspeople voted to enhance the town administrator position, giving it higher pay and greater responsibility.

“An empowered town administrator will be the ultimate public servant for the town,” said Barry Bordner, chairman of the Town Governance Study Committee.

The next town administrator would have more power than his or her predecessors. In the past, the position was assistant town administrator.

Under the newly adopted bylaw, the town administrator would be the chief administrator officer for the town functioning under the policy guidance of the Board of Selectmen. The town administrator would now be the supervisor of all town employees hired by the board, would coordinate with all other departments and town employees and be responsible for an annual draft budget.

To attract qualified candidates, the town chose to boost the position’s salary to $61,287 at the lower end of grade 15, and $74,875 at the top. The town approved spending $1,000 to cover the increased town administrator pay-rate for the balance of the fiscal year.

The past town administrator, Thomas Hutcheson, received $50,829 for his second and final year with the town. He now works for the town of Conway.

The town followed the recommendation the Town Governance Study Committee which has worked for seven months to revamp the position.

The town has been without a permanent town administrator since Hutcheson left for Conway in August.

For $15,000, the town also agreed to fix up a free ambulance. The decision allows the town to have two ambulances running by the spring.

The Emergency Medical Services Department received a 1993 ambulance donated by the town of Rochester, EMS Chief Mark Fortier said.

The EMS sustains itself, billing patients for services and depositing revenue into an enterprise fund, which pays for the department’s budget.

The money comes from the enterprise fund and not taxation. The fund currently has about $47,000.

Fortier said he doesn’t expect to use all of the $15,000, but he’d rather return the leftover cash than ask for additional money later on.

For $4,000, the town also voted to repair the plaster ceilings in the northeast and southeast rooms on the second floor of the Dickinson Memorial Library.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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