The Plympton Board of Selectmen interviewed Bernard Lynch from the consulting firm Community Paradigm Associates at their meeting on Monday, June 26. Lynch’s private practice services are being considered for assisting in hiring Plympton’s first town administrator.
Lynch told the Board that although he’s only been in the consulting business for three years, he’s been involved with municipal government for 30 years. Lynch served as Lowell’s city manager for eight years and was the city manager in Chelmsford for 20 years.
Where this is a new position for Plympton, selectmen have asked each of the three consulting firms they’ve considered to explain their hiring process in detail. The first firm they interviewed, the Collins Center’s approach relied heavily on input from screening committees made up of the community’s citizens.
Municipal Resources focused more on their “expertise hiring the right candidate.” Although they use town input, they do reserve a veto power to put a candidate through to the next round that the town’s board might not have otherwise done.
Community Paradigm’s approach lies in the middle of these two philosophies. Lynch described his process as “flexible to what the town wants.” Lynch said, “I’m comfortable narrowing down (the hiring pool), not choosing.”
He also said that there have been times he’s interjected his own opinion when appropriate. Lynch added, “I’ll give you advice, but I won’t tell you what to do.”
Unlike Municipal Resources, Community Paradigm Associates believes municipal management experience is important for Plympton’s opening, since it will be their first time having a town administrator. At the Plympton Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, June 12, representatives from Municipal Resources described Plympton’s open position as “entry-level.”
Municipal representatives said that based on the town’s population, they made an inference that the town would not be paying a salary of $140,000-150,000 that Town Administrators make in some larger cities and towns.
Lynch said it does make finding an experienced administrator challenging, but not impossible. Selectman John Traynor asked Lynch about what the town should expect to pay a town administrator. Lynch said he’d have to run some estimation calculations, but his educated guess was about $90,000 annually.
Others in the audience asked questions as well. Former Selectman Colleen Thompson attended the meeting and asked Lynch about his experience, since his firm has only been around for three years. Thompson wanted to know why the town would choose Community Paradigm Associates over a larger consulting firm with more years of experience.
Lynch cited his 30 years working as a town manager as relevant experience for hiring for municipalities. He said that he hired 11 or 12 assistants over the years who went on to be municipal managers. Lynch also said he hired five police chiefs.
Selectman Mark Russo said he will call Community Paradigm’s references before a decision is made. The Board will decide which consulting firm they will use at the next selectmen’s meeting on Monday, July 10.
Pictometry Demo with Assistant Assessor Deb Stuart
Assistant Assessor Deb Stuart met with the Board to discuss a pictometry project for Plympton using aerial photography. Stuart said, “It uses oblique images which allows users to look from all compass directions.” The view gives 45 degree angles from all directions on the compass.
Stuart said the project cost $19,900, but can be paid with payments over a three year period. There’s also a $500 maintenance fee.
Originally, Stuart and the Board thought this project could be covered under the IT grant Plympton received. However, Traynor said there’s a new wrinkle and the town may not be able to use the IT grant for things outside of the exchange serve/public records software.
Money was appropriated for these things at Annual Town Meeting, so the Board needs to look into the eligibility of what the grant can be used for further before proceeding. If the grant cannot be used to cover the pictometry cost, other means may need to be explored or the project could get delayed until it can be brought to a vote at the next Annual Town Meeting.
Fire Department Update
Selectmen approved the final draft of the job description for the open clerical position with the Fire Department. The job description was created via a collaboration with Police Chief Patrick Dillon and Selectman John Traynor.
Selectmen Mark Russo said he thinks the job description is great. He liked how the language included the importance of being able to handle the changing of tasks in times of stress/crisis. The positions is part time at 15 hours per week and pays $15 per hour.
Richard Bowen as
Selectmen Chair Christine Joy gave an update on the Board’s meeting with Richard Bowen, who the Board considered for the position of Co-town Counsel at last week’s selectmen’s meeting Monday, June 19. Joy met with Bowen to go over the nature of how their contractual relationship could work.
Joy said, “The meeting with Bowen was productive.” Bowen will work alongside the town’s co-counsel, the firm Kopelman and Paige. Selectmen will meet with Kopelman and Paige next week to discuss specifics.