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Deerfield Personnel Board recommends status quo for town administrator

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Personnel Board is recommending the powers given to the Deerfield town administrator position not change.

The powers of the position should not get stronger or weaker, Personnel Board member Albert Olmstead said.

The salary will be posted at between $60,000 and $75,000 a year, which would be in line with the other department heads.

The job description won’t be official until the Board of Selectmen approves it at its next meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The Personnel Board has been reviewing the job description for the administrator since Bernard Kubiak retired in June. Since then, Wendy Foxmyn has served as interim town administrator. She plans to leave in February.

According to the proposed job description, the town administrator would be the chief administrative and financial officer of the town. The administrator would be responsible to the selectmen for the management of staff and administration of all town affairs. The administrator would also work with departments not appointed by the selectmen toward the achievement of common goals for the town.

The town administrator, appointed by the selectmen, reports to the board and functions under the policy direction of the board.

The town administrator would not be allowed to hold any other public office, elected or appointed, or engage in any other business unless approved by the selectmen first.

The recommended minimum qualifications for the job are a bachelor’s degree in public administration, or a related field with a master’s degree preferred along with a minimum of five years experience in public administration or any equivalent combination of education, training and experience to perform the functions of the job.

The job description became a controversial issue as the town debated what role the next town administrator should take. While some townspeople, committee and board members argued to have a stronger town administrator to lead the central office, others lobbied for a diminished role that left the selectmen as the sole authority in town.

The decision to revise the job description came from the advice of the state Division of Local Services in an audit this November. The state recommended enlarging the administrator’s role and power, running day-to-day functions of the town, while the selectmen would be the chief policy makers.

Among other recommendations, the state advised the selectmen rewrite the town 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.

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

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