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Deerfield Personnel Board to set criteria for town admin.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Personnel Board will create a job description for the town administrator position to present to the Board of Selectmen.

The Personnel Board will review the current, state proposed and nearby towns’ job descriptions and offer the Board of Selectmen advice based on that data.

The Personnel Board’s next meeting is Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Town Office.

The plan going forward came out of a joint meeting of the Personnel Board and selectmen this week focusing on what type of town administrator is best for the town.

After an hour-long discussion, the consensus was the position needs a defined role specified in a clear job description.

Prompting the talk is a state Division of Local Services audit of the town administrator position. The audit recommended the town establish a town administrator screening committee, formalize the position, increase the position’s salary, expand the size of the board of selectmen from three to five members and give the administrator more powers and rewrite the administrator job description.

“It is one of the longest job descriptions I’ve ever read,” said Selectman David Wolfram. “I view the Board of Selectmen as more like a board of directors for a corporation. I’ve only been doing this job for a short time. It’s not politics. It’s running the town how the town should be run.”

Finance Committee member Ralph Healy said the town needs one-point contact with the selectmen serving as advisers.

“Each manager has to be strong. We need someone to go to any moment of the day,” Healy said.

Personnel Board Chairman Joanne Carney said the town needs a list of criteria for the town administrator and how he or she will perform the job.

“There’s an absence of a clear chain of command that needs to be tightened,” Carney said. “We need to tie in leadership skills, consensus building skills that perhaps wasn’t there. The person has to be a go-to person.”

Selectman Chairman Mark Gilmore believed the different department heads, like the highway superintendent and police chief, could be the go-to people as well.

Resident Julie Cavacco, who works for the Tilton Library, recommended the town increase from three to five selectmen to spread the burden of the job and to reflect the diversity of the population.

“We have solid selectboard members, but we need some new blood,” Cavacco said. “How do we get new blood and keep the old? Increase to five members.”

While the town discussed what kind of administrator would work best, Health and Zoning Agent Richard Calisewski advised the town to slow down. He recommended hiring another interim town administrator after Foxmyn leaves in February.

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

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