Trustees take first step in search for new administrator

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

The process to select a new town administrator took a small step forward at Tuesday’s meeting but not without lengthy discussion among the trustees.

In the end, trustees agreed that they will review proposals from consulting firms interested in recruiting qualified candidates to replace town administrator Mike Hart at a regularly scheduled board meeting in April. The reviews will take place in executive session because the request includes a confidentiality clause for applicants.

In January, trustees directed town attorney Greg Bell to create a request for proposal (RFP) to find a firm specializing in executive searches to work with the trustees on the administrator transition. As part of that process, a search committee will be created to assist in the selection of a qualified consulting firm to help the trustees in its recruitment of new town administrator.

The town sent out the RFP to a list of such firms at the end of February. The RFP stipulates that the board can create a search committee to review the proposals that will ultimately make a recommendation to the board regarding the selection of the firm that will be contracted to help select town administrator candidates.

“This committee is only being asked to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, ultimately, the Board as a whole will select the firm deemed most qualified to carry out the search for qualified candidates to fill the Town Administrator position,” a memo to trustees states.

The request recommended that two trustees be included in the ad-hoc committee but more could be included if the interest was there. If more than two trustees volunteered for the committee, it would have required a public notice as it would constitute a public meeting.

Trustee Brian Laak had no issue with the meetings being public and expressed his opinion that the search for a new administrator should be public and transparent.

“Even though it may be quicker and easier to have fewer chefs in the kitchen, I think it would be nice to be open to the public,” Laak said.

Laak added that he didn’t object to having more than two trustees on the committee.

“I don’t see any reason that there should only be two people on the committee,” he said.

After several minutes of discussion, Trustee Chris Buckridge commented that this is a relatively minor detail in the overall scope of finding a new administrator.

“All this is going to be public,” Buckridge said. “This is a relatively minor thing that we are putting a whole lot of effort into. I would be perfectly fine with two or only one trustee representing the board for this phase of it, which is a very short, very concise part, that everyone will have their final say on before there is any kind of final approval.”

Darrow said that so far she’s received interest from two firms but neither has submitted a formal proposal. The deadline for firms to return proposals is Monday, March 20.

The request stipulates that the selected consultant will assist trustees in determining its level of participation in the search, in preparing advertising for the position, actively recruit potential candidates and supply written report to the trustees, and assist the trustees in conducting interviews with preliminary candidates. After the recruitment and evaluation process, the selected firm will recommend the candidate it considers the best qualified, in consultation with the trustees and the search committee, to be interviewed in a public meeting.

Qualified consultants must have been in business for a minimum of five years, having done comparable work for at least three municipalities, and must be able to start work on Berthoud’s selection process within 10 days.

The RFP recommends that the consultants prepare a plan to have a new administrator in place by Sept. 15, 2017, but no later than Oct. 15. Hart’s contract is up at Nov. 30.

Trustees plan to interview all qualified consulting firms in April. Then the process for selecting an administrator to replace Hart will begin.