With an interim town administrator in place, the Oak Bluffs selectmen have turned their attention toward a permanent replacement for former administrator Michael Dutton.
Selectmen met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next steps. Robert Whritenhour has served for three weeks as the interim town administrator but was not present for the discussion. Selectmen said that they hope to name someone to the position by Dec. 13.
Selectman Walter Vail suggested the town hire a search firm, which he estimated would cost between $8,000 and $12,000, but the price was a nonstarter for the rest of the board.
“The drawback to me is the money,” said selectman Gail Barmakian. “There are so many people out there we’re not going to be wanting for applicants.”
Instead the board decided to advertise for the position and appoint a preliminary screening committee to whittle down the field of candidates. Selectmen sketched the makeup of that committee, saying it could include representatives from the finance committee, personnel board, school committee, a selectmen’s appointee, a representative from the NAACP and a summer resident. But selectman Michael Santoro offered a caveat about one town department.
“As we know, there were a lot of e-mails that went around from the personnel board, albeit they were doing it independently, but there were very strong personal views of the interim town administrator we hired and I would think they’d have to stand aside from the process if Robert does decide to go for this position,” he said.
“I share those concerns because they rushed to judgment based on their interpretation of newspaper articles and Google and I’d be very concerned about open-mindedness there,” said Ms. Burton.
Selectmen will further discuss the makeup of the screening committee at their next meeting but hope to have it up and running by Oct. 4.
Board chairman Kathy Burton briefly outlined the qualifications for a prospective town administrator.
“We have a preference for Massachusetts municipal experience, someone who has been a town administrator or administrator already, strong financial background, strong personnel and project management, and one thing I think is really important which I’ve already noticed in Bob Whritenour is the ability to explain financial situations, good communication skills and good presentation skills too,” she said.
Selectmen also announced the retirement of building inspector Jerry Weiner effective Oct. 11. They said the position may become part-time in the future in light of the town’s financial situation and the decrease in building permits issued in recent years.