Belmont selectmen voted Monday night to approve a new description of the town administrator position that imbues the post with more authority than it has had in the past.
The new description defines the town administrator as the “Chief Administrative Officer for the Town.” Until now, the description of the town administrator’s position included a list of duties but did not, according to interim town administrator Richard Kelliher,formally define it as the chief administrative officer.
“It doesn’t invest more formal power, but it creates heightened expectations,” said Kelliher.
Board of Selectmen chairman Ralph Jones said that the language would be important in attracting a wide range of highly qualified applicants for the town administrator position, which the board has been trying to fill since the Oct. 31 resignation of Thomas Younger.
The selectmen are also seeking an interim town administrator after Kelliher announced his resignation, effective Jan. 23.
Selectman Angelo Firenze said that the new description also includes more emphasis on “strategic planning” in the administrator’s role.
“That’s a major change from where the job had been,” Firenze said. “It’s not just the job that had been done, it’s the job that we feel needs to be done.”
There are long-term changes that need to be made in Belmont’s governmental structure, said Firenze, and the town administrator should be working to implement them.
In the past, Firenze has said that Belmont has outgrown its government, which was originally organized to support a much smaller population than Belmont’s current 26,487 residents.
The new job description, he said, will enable the administrator to begin working on those problems.
“It’s a more powerful position for the town administrator,” Firenze said.
The other big change to the town administrator’s position is a recommended raise in salary.
The suggested annual salary range for the newly defined administrator’s position is $140,000 – to $160,000 per year. Until now, that range was $125,000 - $145,000.
When Younger left Belmont, his annual salary was $145,000, according to Diane Crimmins, Belmont’s Human Resources Director.
The suggested annual range is not binding, said Jones, but it will help attract a high quality pool of applicants.
The selectmen also voted last night to create a town administrator screening committee to help the selectmen search for town administrator candidates.
The committee will be made up of the chairman of the Board of Selectmen or designee, the chairman of the warrant committee or designee, the chairman of the school committee or designee, the town moderator or designee, as well as a citizen of Belmont. People will be appointed to the committee by Feb. 9.
Finally, the committee named the consultant it will use to help in its administrator search: the Collins Center for Public Management, a government consulting center run out of the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
The selectmen also voted to submit request for a reserve fund transfer of $15,000 to the warrant committee to pay for the Collins Center’s services.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.