Board talks Look Road bridge financing options, town manager search
by Mike Eldred
Mar 20, 2017 | 3306 views | 0 0 comments | 146 146 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- Select­board members discussed financing for the remainder of the Look Road Bridge construction and reviewed the hiring process for a new town manager with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns at their regular meeting Wednesday evening.

Board members will ask town manager Scott Murphy to start the process of applying for the five-year loan with People’s Bank, but they agreed to discuss alternative financing at an upcoming meeting. “Scott has two weeks left in office, and I’d like to have the loan set up before his departure,” said selectboard chair Tom Fitzgerald. “But there were a lot of ideas floated at Town Meeting to use the 1% (local option tax) money and save ourselves some money.”

According to a loan schedule provided by People’s Bank, payments on the $444,000 loan would start at $99,900 in the first year (2018) and fall each year, with the 2022 payment set at $91,020. The total interest cost of the loan would be $33,300, for a total payback amount of $477,300.

Fitzgerald said one Town Meeting suggestion was to pay the interest out of the 1% tax funds. Another suggestion was to borrow the full amount from the 1% tax fund, and repay it without interest.

“I think that’s something for a future discussion,” said board member Rep. John Gannon, participating by phone from Montpelier. “But I’m concerned about going down that road.”

The board also held a conference call with Abby Friedman, the VLCT’s director of municipal services, who will be assisting the selectboard with their search for a new town manager.

The next step in the process, Friedman told board members, is for the town to finalize the language for their advertisement of the position, as well as a job description that can be posted online. “After we receive those things, we can discuss where you want to advertise, get estimates, and put together a timeline,” Friedman said.

Once applications have been received, a local committee will conduct a first round of review and recommend as many as 10 potential candidates. Friedman urged the board to decide on the makeup of the committee soon. “In some towns, the selectboard does it on their own, some towns have community and staff members participate,” she said. “These folks decide who you’ll have interviews with, they’re just screening. The reason we ask for 10 candidates is that there will be some who drop out of the process because they’ve applied for more jobs than just yours. If we start with a pool of 10 and get down to five or six for the next round, you’re in good shape.”

After that, Friedman said, the field would by narrowed through phone and, finally, in-person interviews. “Then you can narrow it down to a finalist and one or two runners-up. At that point we can do some of the background, civil, criminal, and ID checks. You might also start negotiations for an employment contract with the finalist. The actual offer of employment must be made during an open meeting.”

Noting that there are several openings for town managers in the state, board member Ann Manwaring asked how the VLCT will handle multiple applications from candidates. “We will maintain confidentiality for the applicant and the town,” Friedman said. “We won’t be telling anyone what’s going on in another town.”

Board members also suggested a number of possible places to advertise, from local newspapers to regional professional organizations. Friedman noted that Killington had advertised their town manager position in a ski industry magazine. “We’re going to pass on that,” Fitzgerald said quickly.

When questioned by other board members, Fitzgerald said a similar strategy had not been successful in education. “It’s a ski magazine, and everyone you get just wants to have access to skiing. We did that with teachers and they came for a couple of years, then left.”

Friedman asked board members how soon they would like to have the position filled. “By Memorial Day,” Fitzgerald said. “or is that too ambitious?”

“It might be tight,” Friedman said. “But we can see if we can make it work.”

“It could be as late as July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year,” added Fitzgerald.

The board hasn’t identified an interim town manager yet, but Fitzgerald said the board has compiled a list of candidates.

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