SHIRLEY -- After a long hiatus, a new town administrator is now on board.
Selectmen decided several weeks ago to hire Patrice Garvin, one of three finalists selected by the screening committee and the only one who showed up for an interview with the board. Garvin, a Chelmsford resident and former assistant to the town manager in the neighboring town of Groton, attended her first selectmen's meeting Tuesday night.
One of the town administrator's duties is to present a report to the board at its public meetings, updating members on issues concerning the selectmen's office, projects she's working on and other business.
The Town Administrator's report Tuesday night sketched her first week on the job.
Garvin said she had met with department heads and was in the process of scheduling meetings with "various boards and committees,' including the Finance Committee, with an eye to the upcoming budget-building season.
She's also putting together a collective-bargaining team for union negotiations.
Garvin prepared the warrant for the Nov. 18 Special Town Meeting, which selectmen opened and closed the same night. It will include just two articles: Article 1 seeks to transfer "a sum of money" to the Capital Stabilization Fund, which now holds a balance of about $30,000; Article 2 seeks to "raise and appropriate or transfer" money to the General Stabilization Fund.
The articles anticipate new revenue, in particular about $90,000 in MCI prison mitigation money, an on-again, off-again proposition that communities like Shirley that host state prisons were once able to count on. But in recent years, the funds have often been retained by the Department of Corrections.
This year, with support from Sen. James Eldridge and state Rep. Jen Benson, selectmen were fairly certain the MCI money would come through.
Garvin said she was in touch with Benson's office and should have a number soon. "If the MCI money comes in, motions on the two STM articles will reflect that," she said.
In other business, selectmen decided not to close town offices for the eight-day holiday period from Christmas through New Year, as they have in the past to save energy. Instead, town offices will be closed on Dec. 24, 25 and 31 and on Jan. 1, 2014, but open as usual on weekdays between those dates and thereafter.
Selectman Robert Prescott spoke in favor of working hours during the holiday season. The longer shutdown was "difficult for people ... with business to do," he said, and the building should be open for some of that time.
Selectman David Swain seemed to favor the eight-day closure but didn't argue the point, except to say, "We haven't had a complaint in three years."
Garvin proposed the compromise, four days open, four closed. In her experience, she's never seen a town hall close down for that long during the holidays, she said.