, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 23, 2013

Selectmen start search for new manager

Seabrook: Board will find candidates without outside help

SEABROOK — Selectmen will take on the job of finding a new town manager on their own, after dismissing the idea of hiring a professional firm or forming a local search committee to help with the task.

In an about-face from previously proposed search formats, selectmen voted unanimously yesterday to do all the work themselves, from creating and posting the advertisements to screening resumes, interviewing and making the final decision. Their initial hope of hiring a professional employment company to help with the search — as had been the board’s habit in past searches — was deemed too expensive.

“It’s not $5,000 any more (to hire a firm),” Selectman Ed Hess said at yesterday’s special meeting.

Hess said the firms the town investigated would charge anywhere from $18,000 to as much as 25 percent of the new town manager’s salary, which could amount to more than $25,000 if the new manager’s salary equals $100,000 or more.

“The cost factor was prohibitive,” said Selectman Ray Smith. “It’s no longer (financially) practical.”

Another big change in the previously discussed town manager selection process was offered by Selectman Aboul Khan, when he said the formation of a local search committee would be too time-consuming.

Yet, it was Khan in February who first came up with the notion of pulling together a committee, suggesting the make-up include the town clerk, treasurer and tax collector, along with the chairpersons of the Planning Board and Budget Committee. At the time, Khan thought the committee could read and cull resumes and even do the first round of interviews, then winnow down the field to a list of finalists for selectmen.

In rejecting that idea, Khan said he’d examined the selectmen’s options, and handling the search themselves was well within their authority, according to state law.

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