With their town administrator’s resignation effective at the end of the month, Oak Bluffs selectmen met on Friday morning to discuss how to fill the gaping hole at the top of town government. The town is currently searching for an interim town administrator while it prepares its larger search for a permanent replacement for Michael Dutton.
Selectmen announced Mr. Dutton’s resignation last Friday after weeks of speculation in light of the town’s financial problems and revelations about violations to state public bidding laws.
Selectman Walter Vail said the town had already received expressions of interest in the interim position from two candidates, Stanley Arend and Joe Andrews. Mr. Arend was one of two finalists for the position in 2006, along with Mr. Dutton, before pulling his name from the running to take a position in California. Mr. Andrews is an Oak Bluffs resident.
“I think it’s great that there are already a couple of possibilities, but I still think it’s important that we advertise it so we are open and transparent and fair,” said selectman and board chairman Kathy Burton.
The town will begin advertising for an interim town administrator this week in the Gazette, the Martha’s Vineyard Times and the Cape Cod Times while it prepares a request for proposals for personnel search firms. Selectman Walter Vail said some search firms could charge the town up to $30,000. The town of Falmouth is currently searching for a town manager and Mr. Vail estimated that they had spent between $5,000 and $11,000 on their search.
“To me that is a very good deal,” he said. Mr. Vail suggested reaching out to Tom Groux, the consultant to the town of Falmouth as well as the University of Massachusetts at Boston’s center for public management, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Selectman Gail Barmakian expressed her desire to see the interim town administrator work with Mr. Dutton during his final week on the job but the process of advertising and interviewing for the position will likely forestall that possibility. Selectmen plan to accept responses until July 28, begin interviewing candidates on August 1 and announce the interim administrator at their meeting on August 9.
Selectmen also discussed tweaking the job description for town administrator.
“Right now it’s 31 items long and there’s a lot in there,” said Mr. Vail.
Selectmen also discussed posting the opening for the permanent position on monster.com, craigslist and using contingency-based headhunting firms. In the coming weeks the board will also form a screening committee to sift through applications. Selectmen said they expect the search for a permanent replacement to last several months.