By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD —The search for a new town administrator has begun in earnest with the finalizing of the contract between the selectmen and the executive consulting firm MMA Consulting Group of Plymouth.
The agreed upon fixed fee of $11,550 includes all professional services and expenses, but does not include the cost of advertising the position, expenses for candidates to travel to town or other related expenses, according to the revised proposal presented by MMA President Mark E. Morse and accepted by the board.
Morse drafted the list of tasks to be performed based on discussions he had with Selectmen Chairman Dave Nelson and current Town Administrator Bill Gustus. Gustus will be retiring at the end of the year.
Nelson said the objective is for MMA to present the town with at least six qualified candidates by the end of October or beginning of November.
MMA’s fee for service includes the following tasks: collect town background information, conduct a meeting with department heads, interview each member of the Board of Selectmen, develop a statement of competencies, develop a recruitment plan, develop a public advertising campaign, conduct an independent search (aggressive outreach effort) for candidates, conduct preliminary candidate screening/background reviews, which includes review of resumes, verifying information, an internet/social media search and telephone interviews with possible candidates.
Additionally, MMA will analyze the applicant pool and identify specific candidates and then meet with the selectmen to review applicants and suggest candidates for consideration.
MMA has already drafted the advertisement for the position, which has been running in both The Beacon publication and website and ICMA.
The advertisement specifies some general requirements of candidates and lists the current salary for the position for the town of 12,400 at $175,000 with an application deadline of September 30.
Topping the list of requirements is the ability to serve as the chief administrator and financial officer for the town who handles a $46M budget and is appointed by a three-member Board of Selectmen.
Required skills listed include “strong communication, interpersonal, planning and negotiation along with a history of demonstrated leadership ability and a commitment to and integrity in local government.”
Extensive knowledge of administration, finance, human resources, collective bargaining, public works, public safety, planning and project management are also “required” skills while experience with citizen committees is considered “essential” and knowledge of Massachusetts law “desirable.” A minimum of five years of executive experience is required, as is a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s degree is stated as “preferred.”
Gustus told the selectmen Monday night that based on the phone calls Morse has already received he “expects a strong pool,” of candidates and he does not anticipate any trouble “finding 10-12 competent candidates for you to look at initially.”
Heather Keane of Canterbury Road asked the board what their top three criteria would be for the ideal candidates.
Gustus said, “That is what will be determined in the selectmen interviews (with Morse) on Sept 18 and 19.”
As the “appointing authorities,” Gustus said the selectmen will meet with the recruiter initially. He added that the recruiter “will also interview the department heads in town to develop a good profile of the type of person that the consultant should be looking for.”
Nelson concurred that Morse would base this profile on the feedback he receives during his interviews with the board members and department heads next week.
Selectman Tom Terranova told Keane,”I would welcome any thoughts the public has” regarding they view as essential skills in the next town administrator.
Selectman Phil Crawford added that the advertisement seeks candidates with a “very broad” set of skills coupled with many years of administrative experience.