Cohasset Selectmen to vote town manager search June 4

If Selectmen Karen Quigley and Martha Gjesteby prevail, at their upcoming June 4th meeting Cohasset Selectmen will officially vote to seek a permanent town manager. Acting town manager Mike Milansoki and all others will be eligible to apply as Quigley suggested the board should honor the spirit of the amended town manager act. (The amended act says the town manager must be qualified by reason of education and experience. The previous town manager act said the town manager had to have worked as a professional town manager.)

Honoring the intentions of town meeting with regard to the act  “…eliminates any question regarding who is eligible to apply,” Quigley said, further suggesting that the board utilize an independent no-bid state agency, such as the Collins Center at UMass, Amherst to assist the board in its executive recruitment search.

Quigley said if the Collins Center were to be used for the search, and the acting town manager should choose to apply for the permanent job, the selectmen’s efforts to utilize an independent process would underscore that the search was not political.

Selectman Diane Kennedy told the board she had already contacted the Collins Center and was planning to meet with them Wednesday (May 29) to discuss a search. Kennedy said the reason the previous board did not entertain a search is because it felt it needed to have some kind of stability in management and it wasn’t sure how to address ongoing litigation. However, she said the amended Town Manager’s Act called created a different job description and that it did call for a search.

Selectman Steve Gaumer said it was important to consider management stability. “Fifteen months with one person in the seat is not stable,” he said, suggesting that the selectmen should keep Milanoski on board. “You have someone on board who has already shown his qualifications.”

Select Chair Fred Koed said the board should not worry. “If we have the right  recruitment process, the right candidate will rise to the top.”

[Writer’s note: It should be noted here that the amended town manager act voted at the May 11 annual town meeting gives no time frame for the selectmen to turn an acting town manager into a permanent one. Section 5A (f) “The office of town manager shall be filled as soon as practicable by the board of selectmen who may appoint an acting town manager who may serve until a town manager is appointed.  Irrespective of the duration of the absence of the town manager, the board of selectmen shall determine the powers and responsibilities of any acting of temporary town manager.” As far as the new amended act is concerned, Acting town manager Mike Milanoski could  be acting town manager for the rest of his life.]

“The Town voted no qualifications,” Selectmen Martha Gjesteby said.  “I personally think we need someone with municipal experience. I would like to have someone with a more experienced background; someone who knows how to construct a warrant. And all of the board members have to know what’s happening not just the chair.” Gjesteby mentioned that Hull Town Manager Phil Lemnios has been in Hull for over 20 years (and is being paid $153,000 a year as is Milanoski) and he’s done a good job, Gjesteby said of Lemnios. Gjesteby said although Gaumer said Cohasset needed to repair its image before advertising the job she predicted: “We’ll get 50-100 applicants. Candidates will take the job as a challenge.”

Koed suggested that timing of the search was important. “We’re at a decision point now. We need to have a permanent town manager to give us stability.”

Gaumer said Cohasset had a bad reputation on the street. “We are a sharp elbow town that has very little tolerance for people who take the top spot.”  He suggested selectmen think long and hard about the process of the search, and what selectmen wanted in a permanent manager. He added that there was not much challenge in a town with a residential tax base. “A person (town manager) cannot do great things.”

Gjesteby said she still thought the board should move forward with the search. Quigley agreed with Gjesteby adding that a consultant such as the Collins Center would both advertise and recruit for the job. “If you don’t set out  game plan, you never get there. We must be as deliberative as we can be.”

“We don’t need a consultant to help us,” Gaumer said.

Quigley made a motion to begin the search. “We can discuss this to death and without a vote, there’s no process.”

Gaumer:  “We don’t have a process. Before we engage anybody to even help us we must design a process. We must set the objectives before we can do anything.”

Gjesteby: “The goal is to hire a town manager, period.”

Kennedy agreed with the selectwomen: “We’re getting hung up on silly semantics. We can talk objectives next week, after I talk with the Collins Center.”

Jack Keniley, former member of the town manager selection committee said it was the committee who decided what skills the town manager would need.”He suggested that maybe this time the selectmen make that determination.

Quigley, who was chairman of the board at the time said the selectmen did provide to the consultant a listing of qualifications they wanted in a town manager. Keniley said they never saw it.

Koed said it was important to start the search and take a symbolic vote. “We need that vote to begin the search.”

Selectmen spent 45 minutes in executive session with the town’s insurance attorney with regard to former employees Mark DeLuca (former police chief)  and Mike Coughlin (former town manager).

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed