Published March 21, 2019
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — The Select Board has consistently praised Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto for the professionalism and expertise he brings to the job every day.
His job evaluations by each board member have been consistently excellent as well, and reflect the confidence they have in his abilities to provide them with the information they need to meet their goals as well as Gilleberto’s role as the town’s top department head.
So it did not come as too much of a surprise on Monday night when the board announced that an agreement had been reached with Gilleberto to ratify and sign a 5 1/2 year employment agreement through June 30, 2024, retroactive to January 1, 2019.
His current contract had been set to expire June 30, 2020 but Gilleberto and the board, as well as Human Resources Director Bob Collins and Finance Director Liz Rourke, had been involved in contract negotiations since this past January.
Board Chairman Mike Prisco said the decision by the board to agree to this contract extension is a recognition of the fact that there exists “tremendous opportunity” for Gilleberto to seek employment with many other towns. “He is being courted, and rightfully so,” Prisco said, adding that one each of his annual evaluations Gilleberto has scored at nearly the maximum level.
Since the board wants to retain Gilleberto’s services for the long term, Prisco said they broached the idea of extending his contract at the beginning of the year. “I am voting yes. I am glad we were able to get it done,” Prisco said.
Select Board member Andrew Schultz agreed. “Michael, we are lucky to have you,” he said.
Board member Stephen O’Leary acknowledged that he had “the pleasure” of knowing every town administrator this town has had and had personally worked with all but the first two. “Five years ago we were in a situation where we found ourselves looking for a new Town Administrator and we had some very capable candidates… We decided to gamble with a young guy” who had worked for the city of Worcester and town of Tyngsboro whose “recommendations were through the roof… and we got him for a very reasonable rate,” O’Leary said. “I think he sold himself short with his last contract.”
Likewise, board member Bob Mauceri said that he had worked with three T.A.’s during his 15 years on the board and he had also been involved on two of the search selection committees. “Mr. Gilleberto has lived up to” all the expectations they had of him, he said. “The fact that he lives in the community has given him the opportunity to understand our community,” Mauceri added. “The action taken is necessary to guarantee he continues his tenure.”
Select Board member Kate Manupelli said Gilleberto’s “competency level is outstanding,” and added that he is “consistently reminding us how things affect our employees…I am in agreement he is a talent we want to retain.”
Under the terms of his contract, Gilleberto will be paid a salary of $180,000 retroactive to January 1, 2019.
The new contract eliminates the prior cost of living (COLA) payments that were part of his previous contract and which had been payable on July 1 of each year.
Similarly, the bonus structure under his prior contract is no longer in effect “except as follows: 1. In recognition of the potential bonus earned during the period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, as provided under the previous Employment Agreement with the Town Administrator, but not paid as of the signing of this Employment Agreement, the Town Administrator will be paid up to 4% of $153,883.60 for the period from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.”
If this bonus is earned, it shall be paid on or about June 30, 2019 and would be based upon a review by the Select Board based on the following scores: 2% for a review score of 181 or greater; 3% for a review score of 191 or greater; 4% for a review score of 211 or greater.
The contract further states that effective July 1, 2019, his annual base salary shall be $185,400. Additionally, the town and the T.A. have agreed that the “North Reading Town Administrator Review Form” attached to the contract shall serve as the means to annually evaluate his performance and upon which future salary increases will be based.
The contract states that his salary “shall increase between 1% and up to 3%, effective July 1 of every contract year commencing on July 1, 2020, based upon an annual review by the Select Board and the following scores: 2% for a review score of 191 or greater; 3% for a review score of 211 or better.”
An additional clause states that nothing in the Section V-Salary portion of his contract “shall be deemed to limit the board, at its sole discretion, from increasing the Town Administrator’s compensation beyond what is provided in Section V (3).”
Under section 7 of the contract it is stated that the Select Board shall review and evaluate his performance on or about April 15th annually and the review shall be based on the “goals and objectives developed jointly by the Board and the Town Administrator. The board will also provide him with an “adequate opportunity” to discuss his evaluation with the board in open session. Once these deliberations end the chairman of the board “shall provide the Town Administrator with a summary written statement of the evaluation findings of the board, which shall become a public record.”
Under the “expenses” portion of his contract, since it is said that his duties require him to be available 24 hours per day and travel by motor vehicle for town business, he is to be provided a town-owned vehicle on or about August 1, 2019 at a model year 2019 or newer Ford Explorer XLT or its equivalent and the town will pay for insurance, maintenance, fuel etc. He would be given unlimited personal use of the vehicle within New England and may use it outside of New England with the permission of the Chair of the Select Board.
This vehicle will be requested to be funded at the June 2019 Town Meeting and any subsequent Town Meetings. The contract further states if the request does not pass the employment agreement will be re-opened for the sole purpose of re-negotiating “the rate of reimbursement to the Town Administrator for the use of his personal vehicle for town business.” If, after a “reasonable effort” the town is unable to provide such a vehicle the town will compensate the T.A. for the use of his personal vehicle for town business with a monthly stipend of $450 per month until such a vehicle is provided or a new rate is negotiated.
Additionally, the employment agreement provides that six months prior to the formal written review both the chairman and vice chairman of the board will conduct an informal oral review based on the goals and objectives “for the purpose of providing guidance as to the progress toward attaining those goals.”
The next year’s goals are to be defined jointly by the board and the T.A. around June 15th of each contract year.
Vacation/hours of work
The contract states that he is to devote his full time and attention to the town’s business and will not engage in any other business, except with the approval of the board. In recognition of the need to work a great deal outside of normal business hours the T.A. is allowed to take “reasonable compensatory time off” as he deems appropriate during normal office hours and the chairman of the board reserves the right to review and/or approve compensatory time.
His contract provides a health insurance police similar to other town employees and an annual reimbursement up o $2,000 for premiums toward disability and/or life insurance.
He is also entitled to 12 holidays per year and five weeks paid vacation each year of the contract. In addition to time already accrued, vacation time shall accrue at 14.583 hours per month up to 25 days per year. A maximum carryover of 10 days per year is allowed.
In addition to time already accrued, under the new contract his sick days will accrue at one day per month and may accrue up to 105 sick days. He may use up to five sick days per year to care for an immediate family member.
The contract requires the T.A. to provide the entire board with written notice of the contract renewal date nine months prior to its expiration. If the board decides not to renew the agreement or the term of the appointment, the board is required to provide at least six months advance written notice. If the board fails to give such notice the agreement shall extend for an additional year under the current terms.
Termination or voluntary separation
The board may terminate the T.A. by a 4/5ths vote in accordance with the Town Charter. If the termination occurs prior to the expiration of the agreement the town agrees to pay a lump sum cash payment equal to the lesser of six months or the remainder of the contract, but not less than three months aggregate.
If the T.A. voluntarily decides not to renew his contract he is required to give two months’ written notice unless agreed to otherwise by the two parties.