Groundwork laid for town manager search

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Community Paradigm President Bernie Lynch [far right] speaks with the Town Council on the process for finding a new town manager. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

Groundwork laid for town manager search

The firm of Community Paradigm reviewed every aspect of the search for a new Town Manager, from the process to what makes North Attleborough a desirable community to live in.

Bernie Lynch, the company’s principal, said that the town has a lot going for it, including a strong downtown area, its proximity to Providence and Boston, and a government that stabilized a challenging financial situation. He said one goal will be to highlight these positive aspects.

“It seems to me that the politics are pretty stable,” said Lynch, at last Monday’s Town Council meeting. “What scares most managers are that the politics are raucous, that their time here is going to be a challenge.”

Lynch plans to spend the next few weeks gathering information on the town, speaking to department heads, and gathering citizen input. From this will come a position statement on the role. This will be advertised through a number of methods, including the Mass Municipal and International City/County Management associations. He said the process will be a very active one, with the firm attending manager meetings and conventions.

The estimated salary being offered will be $165,000-$185,000. He said that Massachusetts is an attractive state to live in, between the colleges and universities and options for places to live. He encouraged the council to look for a candidate with 10 years of experience.

The Process

Lynch said applicants will be broken up into three tiers—those who are qualified, those not, and those with some relevant experience, such as department heads, who may be worth speaking to. All resumes will be shared with a Screening Committee. From these tiers, three finalists will be chosen to be interviewed by the council. Only the finalist interviews will be open to the public.

“People should have a history of putting together a budget and economic experience,” Lynch said.

Lynch added that it wouldn’t be good to change managers in the middle of the budget process, which the council had spoken of in the past. Acting Town Manager Michael Gallagher’s contract ends on Dec. 31, and Lynch said it would be hard to have someone new in by then. If needed, the council has the option of extending Gallagher’s contract a further six months. 

Lynch said that it’s a seller’s market for those seeking new town manager positions, as there has been a lot of turnover due to retirements. He estimated that there would be approximately 30 applicants for the position. 

“There are going to be two types [of applicants],” said Lynch. “Those that will not want to be the first town manager, that it is too much of a challenge. Others will see it as a great opportunity.”

What Makes a Good Town Manager?

The council has a number of attributes that they would like to see in the next town manager. Adam Scanlon wants to see someone with a diverse background and pride in the community. Julie Boyce sees people and communications skills as key to the role. Justin Pare hopes to have a town manager with financial acumen, budget experience, and the ability to grow the economy of the town.

Michael Lennox wants someone that creates leaders, not followers, a town manager that empowers others. Darius Gregory wants a person of passion, someone that can grow with the town. Kathleen Prescott would like a town manager who can work on their own and not need someone holding their hand. Keith Lapointe wants someone with accountability and strategic thinking.

“We don’t need a maverick,” said Lapointe. “This person should be able to get the best out of the town.”