Selectboard chair Randy Terk told board members that he had been in contact with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding the hiring process for the new administrator. For a fee of around $5,000 plus expenses, he said, VLCT would advertise the position, interview candidates, conduct background checks, and provide a list of viable candidates for the board to choose from. “Should we outsource the process?” asked Terk. “And, if not, how should we proceed?”
Board member Tom Baltrus said it would be worthwhile to have the VLCT conduct the background checks and “do a lot of the legwork” to narrow down the candidates. Board member Linda Holland noted that the town has used the VLCT’s services to fill other positions. “We did use them to hire economic development candidates,” she said. “We had the wrong ones, but it helped narrow it down.”
“We did use them twice for economic development directors,” agreed former selectboard member William “Buzzy” Buswell, “and we’ve seen how well that worked.”
Buswell warned that the advertising expenses, additional to the $5,000 fee, could be pricey. “You’re not talking about the Deerfield Valley News, here. You’re looking at $353 per column inch in the Albany Times Union, $740 per column inch in the Boston Globe. With advertising, it could cost you $10,000.”
Baltrus noted that the sites on which the VLCT proposed to advertise the position ranged from $160 to $260 per listing. Terk said he didn’t think the part-time selectboard would be able to conduct the candidate search and hiring process on its own. “Any time I’ve hired someone in the past it has always been the human resources department that conducts the initial search,” he said. “In this case, the VLCT will act as our HR department.”
The comment prompted finance director Patty Westlake to point out that Monis is currently the town’s human resources contact, and she is the sole contact for issues such as health insurance and other personnel functions. She asked that someone be assigned the role until a new administrator can be hired.
“It’s more than just that,” said Terk. “We’ll also need someone to come in and receive emails and phone calls in the interim.”
Board member Vicki Capitani said the simplest solution would be to fill the interim position with someone who already works for the town, and knows the processes that are in place. She suggested circulating the opening among employees.
Buswell said the problem could have been minimized if board members had listened to his prior warnings and cross-trained employees. “I don’t like to say I told you so, but I told you so,” he said. “A year and a half ago I said you never know when key personnel in town may leave, and we don’t want to be caught with our pants down. Which we are at the present time.”
But Buswell noted that there was one town employee that had received training in various duties, and might be a candidate for the interim position. “We did work out a thing where we cross-trained one individual in the office, and that person worked with Nona. Maybe you should ask her in a private session if she’d be willing to do it.”
“You can call me by my name,” said assistant town clerk Jeanette Eckert. Buswell went on to extol Eckert’s experience and knowledge of town business. “If there’s anyone who knows about what goes on in that office, it would be that young lady,” he said. “You should consider offering her the interim or full-time position.”
Terk said the discussion was both “preliminary and inappropriate,” but said that he “heard” Buswell regarding the need to cross-train staff.
“You hear that, but you don’t do anything about it,” complained Buswell. “You heard it a year ago and didn’t do anything. We need to do something so we don’t get in this predicament again.”
Board members agreed to seek interim candidates from current staff. They also voted to ask a representative from VLCT to attend their next meeting.
In other matters, the board approved an increase in allowable expenditures for construction of the public park, now underway on Route 100. Economic development director Ken Black said the park was nearing completion, and current expenses were already in the neighborhood of $139,300. Capitani noted that it was $4,300 over the approved budget of $135,000 for the park. Black said expenses for some items, such as topsoil, cost a bit more than expected. But he said sod for the park would be delivered next week, after which there will be several weeks of watering during which the park would continue to be off limits. But after that, Dover residents should be able to enjoy their new park and playground. Board members voted to increase the total budget to $145,000.