At Monday night’s meeting, Plympton Selectman John Traynor said he is torn between what firm to use to help hire a town administrator. In several previous meetings, Traynor and other members of the board expressed their leanings towards the Collins’ Center. Traynor said that he likes their process in the screening stages.
Representatives from Municipal Resources, a consulting firm based out of Meredith, NH, made their case to selectmen for why Plympton should choose their hiring firm. Highlighting their familiarity with towns like Plympton, the pair told selectmen that most of their work is primarily in New England, although they have also consulted for communities as far south as North Carolina.
Unlike the Collins’ Group, whose process relies heavily on input from a citizen panel throughout the entire process, Municipal Resources puts a larger emphasis on their experience as a firm in finding the right candidates.
Municipal Resources representatives said that this doesn’t mean they don’t use input from the town. There are cases where interviewing/screening panels from town representatives are used and there is always town input. The firm’s normal process is conducting all the screening before having candidates interview with the Board of Selectmen.
This process starts with the firm narrowing down the field of applicants to 10-15 candidates. Municipal Resources will then send out 5 essay questions to each of the remaining applicants.
Selectman Mark Russo asked what types of things are asked in the essay questions. The firm’s representatives said they need to get to know the town better early in the process before knowing the exact question’s they would ask.
They did say though that a question about large budget projects will be asked. since the hired town administrator will be coming into a situation where Plympton is working toward a $3 million dollar police station. Once the essay portion of the process is complete, on-site interviews with selectmen will take place and the field will be narrowed down to three candidates.
Municipal Resources explained their emphasis on their experience in the hiring process by telling the town about the veto power that is a part of every one of their hiring processes. This means that if a town panel screens/interviews a candidate and does not like them initially, Municipal Resources reserves the right to put a candidate through to the next interview round anyway.
This raised some questions from the Board and other department and committee members in attendance. Traynor voiced some concern over the veto power process Municipal Resources uses. He asked how the community gets involved.
The firm said they want to get to know Plympton more by having a meeting with the department heads. They said they plan to interview those department heads individually for about 15-20 minutes. Input from the Council on Aging is also expected.
Former selectman Colleen Thompson questioned a comment where the firm referred to the Plympton opening as entry-level. The firm’s representatives said that based on the town’s population, they inferred that the town would not be paying a salary of $140,000-150,000 per year that Town Administrators make in some larger cities and towns.
Municipal Resources said that it’s not likely someone would take a pay cut to come here, but did not rule out the possibility. They said the town is more likely to get candidates who would be looking to advance in the public sector or have a relevant background in the private sector.
Thompson followed up by saying that entry level can mean a stepping stone for an employee and raised some questions about the long-term commitment of this type of candidate.
Selectmen are planning to decide which of the two consulting firms they will use when they next meet on Monday, June 19. Selectman Mark Russo will be calling references for both Municipal Resources and the Collins’ Center this week.
Public Safety Building Update
John Wilhelmson and Colleen Thompson from the Public Safety Building Committee came before the board to ask that they renew the contracts for P-3 (project management firm) and Context (engineering and design firm formerly known as Donham and Sweeney). Wilhelson said that “It was a very purposeful process to get to $3 million. (for the police station).” He acknowledged that both played a large role in getting to a figure the town can afford.
While talking about P-3 Wilhelmson mentioned that the Public Safety Building Committee plans to survey the 5-acre parcel of land abutting the town property, which the town plans to purchase. John Wilhelmson said that there’s $44,000 left from last year’s appropriated article and some of this could be used for the survey.
Dennett School Water Treatment
John Wilhelmson is also a member of the Dennett School Committee and presented an update to the board on the water treatment project approved at Annual Town Meeting. Wilhelmson said he had a follow-up meeting with the designer. The meeting included talks about preparing build contracts and selecting these contracts.
Wilhelmson said that every part of the water treatment has to be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection before they can be installed. The board signed a work order for $14,500 for these services. This is within the appropriated budget for the project according to Wilhelmson.
Planning Board Chair Deb Anderson came before the Board of Selectmen to inform them that Building Inspector Robert Karling has volunteered to join the Planning Board to help the board to a quorum. At last month’s annual Town Election, no candidate came forward to be on the ballot and while there were several names written in, there was a failure as no candidate got more than one vote.
Karling is currently the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Selectmen will check with Town Counsel to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
This appointment was approved pending Town Counsel approval. Having Karling as a member of the Planning Board, in addition to his wealth of knowledge, either allows or gives the board the necessary numbers for a quorum. His term, if approved, will last until election next year.
Plympton selectmen will next meet Monday, June 19. Open session starts at 6 p.m.