Select Board logo, 2019Diggins calls range 'a good place.'

The Select Board has unanimously approved a statement describing the job of the next town manager, amending the salary to $200,000 plus or minus (previously $20,000 higher) and the closing date of Jan. 13 to 4 p.m. (previously 3).

Board member John Hurd said he is “much more comfortable” with the lower number, “because $220k is just about the maximum, and other benefits come along with the position.”

Board Chair Len Diggins concurred, saying, “$200k+/-is a good place.”

Initially, at the Dec. 5 meeting, board members Hurd and Eric Helmuth suggested not listing the salary.

However, consultant Bernie Lynch, of Community Paradigm Associates, in Plymouth, said that many places where this position will be posted require a salary range. “It gets people’s attention to have some sense of the salary. The plus and minus provide a salary range, depending on skills and experience. An attractive salary number gets peoples’ attention, and generates interest in the position.”

Julie Flaherty, another Community Paradigm Associates consultant, said, “We’ve pretty much always listed a salary. That’ll be the first question, and people will not apply without knowing the salary’s ballpark.”

Read the draft position statement here >> 

Salary to be negotiated

According to Lynch, the salaries for managers in a number of communities in the area are higher than $200,000. He cited these examples: Lexington, $270,000; Sudbury, $215,000; and Westford between $210,000 and $230,000.

“If you’re looking to get a candidate who meets the qualification standards included in the position profile, I’d recommend at least $215,000. Or if you want to give a range,” he recommended listing it as $200,000, plus or minus, “and move up from there. The market for managers now is such that to get someone with the quality that Arlington wants, you have to list that salary.”

Board member Diane Mahon explained that Arlington, besides Brookline, is the plumb job in Massachusetts for up-and-coming managers. 

Mahon also recommended including a plus or minus in the salary, because the board has to negotiate “knowing that in all probability we’ll go toward the top of the range. The job description says that we’ll consider a nontraditional candidate who has great potential, but we don’t want to insult them and go ‘bargain-basement’.”

Screening committee to select initial candidates

The board unanimously agreed to establish a seven-member screening committee ―superintendent of schools or designee, one town employee and one person each chosen by the five Select Board members. Lynch agreed that seven is a good number. 

The town employee will be decided at the board’s Jan. 9 meeting. Hurd recommend Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Jillian Harvey, but said, “We’ll have to have a discussion about that.” 

Diggins recommended having the screening committee selected by the board’s next meeting, Jan. 9, falling back to the next meeting, Jan. 23, if necessary.

In determining the screening committee, Lynch said, “You can have a Select Board member on the committee, but the Select Board cannot dominate the committee. This is supposed to be separate to provide assistance to the board in paring down the number of candidates.”

Lynch explained that the screening committee takes the applications, and screens them down to a reasonable number. These candidates are then interviewed, screening them further to the final list, which is then presented to the board. The screening committee will likely recommend three to four candidates.

“Massachusetts’ Open Meeting Law does not allow the Select Board to conduct these preliminary interviews in executive [closed] session, and candidates will apply only if they have some level of confidence that their application will be kept confidential until they’re selected as a finalist,” said Lynch. 

“Resumes received remain confidential to the screening committee members. It’s a competitive market now for town managers, and people are not going to apply if they don’t think they stand a good chance of getting at least to the finals and have a shot at the job,” added Lynch. 

Watch the Dec. 5 meeting on ACMi:

Town Counsel Doug Heim explained, “The preliminary screening committee can only do the initial screening/cut in executive session to determine the qualified candidates. The law states that an executive session in a preliminary screening committee serves to consider or interview applicants for employment, or appointment by a preliminary screening committee, to determine who is a qualified candidate to be presented to the board.” 

March 3, 2022: Town manager plans to resign, aims to 'recharge' 


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.

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