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Just Thinking: Town Administrator Review

by Mary Greendale
May 18, 2018

Just thinking…that the Board of Selectmen is going through the review and salary discussion for the Town Administrator too fast and at the sacrifice of a good and open review process.

The Board raised the process on May 14th at their meeting. The review was supposed to take place in January according to the contract. I “assume” the rush is because there will be a change in Board membership as of next week. While that may be true, it does not justify a poor process.

At last week’s meeting, the Chair of the Board announced that he had evaluated the TA’s performance using a list of 20 questions.

Are these 20 questions a standard form used for all Town employees? Where can the public see this list? Are these the same questions used last year so that the BOS can compare responses and see where there is growth or not?

Was the evaluation based on goals or anything that the TA was supposed to accomplish as required by the Town bylaws?  Is the evaluation written down as part of the public record? While the law allows that public records can be “tapes,” the only way that future Boards can know about earlier reviews is if those reviews are in writing.

The Chair seemingly did the evaluation without the other two Selectmen.

How can that be? Did the Board vote to delegate that responsibility? And if so, why? The TA works for all three members not just the chair. Perhaps those additional reviews will take place on Monday, May 21. That is when the Board agenda includes renewing the contract and the TA’s salary package, which currently has him earning $122,000. I hope so, and I hope the review is formalized, consistently applied and in writing.

The Chair asked if the Department heads had evaluated the TA and was told yes, they had…but nothing was in writing.

Verbal evaluations are conversations not formal reviews. If they were not taped, those are not public records. These reviews are supposed to become part of the official record. The Board should be able to rely on these reviews in making their own assessments. After all, an employee can be wonderful with the people he works for and less than wonderful with the people he supervises. And there should be a paper trail in case of future issues.

I could go on with other process concerns that I have. I have been chided for being a “process queen,” but I believe that process keeps things fair and open…and that’s what I expect of my government at all levels.

I respectfully ask that the BOS execute a full, proper and open review of the Town Administrator before undertaking discussions about compensation. Since the contract does not expire until June 30, there is still plenty of time.

In the interests of transparency, I am placing this article in the Holliston Reporter and also sharing it with the Selectmen and Town Administrator by email. Perhaps I am the only one that has these concerns, but as I said, process is very important to me.  If I have made erroneous assumptions here, I welcome correction. I based the comments on what the public has seen.



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