Select Board Wrangles Over Town Manager Review Process
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 3:10pm Heraldgroton
"If You Have A Problem Talk To Me. If You Are Upset With How I Handle A Project, Bring It Up To Me"
by Connie Sartini
Chairman of the Select Board Alison Manugian told her colleagues that the Board has “discussed many, many times the potential changes to the Town Manager Review Process and I will take only new information instead of going back over and over” previously discussed items.
Three review policy choices:
1. Numerical evaluation- only summary document retained long term
2. Numerical evaluation and half page individual member comment – need regulations set for rejecting comments not in compliance – long term retention could include summary document and comments only
3. Numerical evaluation, half page comment - regulation set that future comments submission
not in compliance could be rejected by the Select Board. Long- term retention would include numerical response, summative document and comments.
The Board then voted in a split, with three (Pine, Degen, Manugian) in favor and two (Giger, Reilly) not in favor of Choice #3.
Manugian then commented that “this is a process to try, and we can change it in the future.”
Mid-Year Review Proposal
Select Board member Becky Pine also wanted a section to be included in the policy that a mid-year review be conducted between the Select Board and the Town Manager in order to identify any issues.
She proposed that this discussion take place in an open session in November and that both the Select Board and the Town Manager have an opportunity to share their comments about how the town’s business is being managed.
Selectman Josh Degen said that there should be “no requirement to have this in public session, but rather in a work session, with no public input.”
Colleague John Giger said he was “startled when Becky suggested this be done in a public meeting. This doesn’t work for me.”
Board member John Reilly said he was “totally against making comments in a public meeting.”
Pine said she was confused and “didn’t think that the talk would be done in executive session.”
Town Manager Mark Haddad stressed that performance is part of the Town Manager Annual Review. He pointed out that he gives a weekly update to the Board and talks with all of them at various times during the week.
Haddad said, “This comes across as there is a problem with the Town Manager and I don’t think it’s fair to the Town Manager. I am offended by this. If you have a problem, talk to me. If you are upset with how I handle a project, bring it up to me. We have never operated better than we have in the last three months.”
Pine acknowledged that it was her responsibility for using poor wording for the proposal. She felt that they could use this as an opportunity for conversation. Ultimately, however, she had no support from her peers and the proposal was eliminated from becoming part of the policy. She suggested that the mid-year check-in serve as a supplement to the Town Manager’s Annual Review.
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