GROVELAND — The Board of Selectmen is looking to start a new chapter and is looking for its first town administrator after support from Town Meeting voters last month.
The town now operates under the supervision of the five-member, volunteer Board of Selectmen, but the May 24 Town Meeting authorized the board to hire a town administrator for day-to-day operations and financial matters.
According to a town press release, the first person for the new town administrator post would be hired on a one-year contract and report to the Board of Selectmen.
Town Meeting also approved the dissolution of the current finance director system which would allow selectmen to reorganize municipal operations around a financial team to be led by the town administrator.
Joseph D'Amore, a former selectman, said he explained the issue to Town Meeting last month before the affirmative vote.
According to D'Amore, former Finance Director Denise Dembowski left to become town manager of Stow last year and the town is now functioning with an interim treasury/collections assistant working in concert with the selectmen.
"We have a very willing and caring five-member Board of Selectmen but they are all volunteers," D'Amore said. "We want to make sure that we are using a professional who will intervene on behalf of the Board of Selectman in key areas such as personnel management and certain negotiations. We also need a chief procurement officer, a chief compliance officer and someone that employees need to know is in charge."
Selectmen are expected to appoint a Town Administrator Search Committee which will review applications and recommend potential candidates for the job. Candidates will be interviewed by the selectmen who will make the eventual hiring decision.
The incoming administrator would be expected to serve for one year and could be appointed to recurring, three-year terms after that.
Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Kastrinelis said in the press release the business of operating a town is growing in complexity.
"We were a volunteer Board of Selectmen and many issues can't wait for us to meet every other week," Kastrinelis said. "We want to have a professional operation so that our fantastic employees will have support and our residents will receive a high level of service."
Michael Dutton works as a town manager in Bridgewater but has also served as a town administrator on Martha's Vineyard.
He said that shifting to a town administrator form of government will allow Groveland to professionalize its internal operations.
"You're creating a central internal authority and that gives a town much better processes, easier and better budget practices," Dutton said
He added that a town administrator can reduce a town's liability by making sure departments, such as human resources, are run in the correct manner.
"Sometimes you can find in the smaller towns that they try very hard to professionalize themselves," Dutton said. "But ultimately almost everything around human resources or personnel are so regulated now and so detailed that a board of selectmen trying to manage all of that is virtually impossible. Just that alone is really one of the biggest benefits of transitioning to professional management."