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Deerfield forms admin. search committee

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Seven community members will search for the town’s next permanent town administrator.

The selectmen have created a Town Administrator Screening Committee and appointed all the members as special municipal employees.

Members are Personnel Board Chairwoman Joanne Carney, Personnel Board member John Paciorek, Library Director Sara Woodbury, former Town Clerk, Treasurer, Collector Mary Stokarski, Chief Financial Officer for Deerfield Academy Keith Finan, Tom Scanlon Jr. of Scanlon and Associates and Frontier School Superintendent Martha Barrett.

The selectmen appointed Carney as the chairwoman of the screening committee.

Interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn will serve as staff to the committee.

At its meeting, the selectmen discussed next steps for the interviewing and hiring process.

The selectmen agreed to use a process like the one used to hire the police chief. During that process, a screening committee, also led by Carney, selected finalists, who then each met with the municipal employees and Deerfield Police Department. Lastly, the finalists were interviewed in public by the selectmen using questions submitted by the public.

Foxmyn also recommended that process, stating she’d like it to be a “very public process.”

Job description

One of the issues going forward is what the town administrator job should look like.

A recent state audit recommended the town should rewrite the administrator job description, establish a town administrator screening committee, formalize the position, communicate with staff through the town administrator, increase the position’s salary, conduct performance reviews and expand the size of the board from three to five members. The state also advised that the town administrator take on a greater role managing the day-to-day functions of the town, while the selectmen act as chief policy makers.

Some in town, however, disagree with the state audit and prefer a weaker town administrator.

“The the biggest bottleneck to me is what this should look like,” said Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Gilmore.

Gilmore said he looked at other towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that are similar in size to Deerfield and discovered that some have the position of town coordinator.

“I’m finding there’s not a lot of difference,” Gilmore said.

What Gilmore liked most about positions he observed elsewhere is they did not have hiring or firing powers like the state audit recommends.

Foxmyn, however, said a town coordinator is typically a diminished position for much smaller towns.

“I’m waiting for the Personnel Board to tell me what they think is right or wrong,” Gilmore said. “I want the person to perform the services for the town at the level we can afford.”

Meanwhile, the Personnel Board is continuing to work on a job description. The board’s next meeting is Thursday.

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

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