SHIRLEY -- The Town Offices corner office has been unoccupied for months.
Once the office of Town Administrator Kyle Keady, who was fired and is currently serving a state prison term, the next occupant was Chief Administrative Officer David Berry. He resigned under fire a couple of months ago after failing to meet selectmen's expectations.
Now that the CAO title is history, along with its long-range planning-centric structure; the selectmen have decided to reinstate the former, more traditional administrative model, with a few key changes, apparently based on recent experience.
Monday night, they discussed work in progress to hire a new town administrator. The first step was to settle on a job description.
Starting with "several versions" gleaned from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website, coupled with past job descriptions from their own archives, the selectmen agreed they had the right material if they simply "tweaked" the content in the final draft.
"Basically, they are the same," Chairman David Swain said. So the aim would be to narrow the choices to one document for the screening committee to work with.
The new TA must be responsible for administration and supervising everything under the selectmen's jurisdiction and department heads who report to them, Swain said, including fire and police departments and town inspectors.
The individual hired will also serve as liaison to other boards and committees, the selectmen agreed. And it must be clear "this isn't an eight-to-five job," Swain said. Instead, it calls for attending local meetings at night "as required," and regional meetings that involve the town or town projects.
The other selectmen agreed the models were "close" but should work in those requirements. "Frequent night meetings as needed," for example, Kendra Dumont said.
Other specific job requirements the board agreed to add to the generic format included participating with the Finance Committee in its budget and capital budget planning process and in preparing the town meeting warrant and town reports. Plus, a stipulation that the town administrator can be contacted at home, if necessary.
Once the job description is complete, hopefully by next week, it will be sent to the Personnel Board for placement on the wage and salary grid, replacing the CAO title at the same point on the scale.
With a half dozen letters of interest from residents wanting to serve on the screening committee, the board hopes to appoint the group at its next meeting June 17.
"I am more in support of seeing all the applications that come in," Dumont ventured. She hopes to expedite an already protracted process, she said, and the selectmen should "take responsibility for this all the way down the line."
Swain, however, said he favors leaving the initial legwork to the screening committee. The latter group is expected to sift through the applications and come up with three to five best bets for the selectmen to review, interviewing top candidates.