HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Aug. 20 hired Muncipal Resources Inc., (MRI), a recruiting service out of Meredith, N.H., to help with the search for Hanson’s new town administrator.
A second bidding firm GovHR USA of Northbrook, Ill., was not considered because of the firm’s distance and because it did not send a representative to the meeting to meet with the board.
MRI’s President and CEO Alan S. Gould and team member Reginald “Buzz” Stapscynski briefed Selectmen on their services and the type of search they will conduct.
“I don’t like surprises,” Gould said of the thoroughness of their background investigations. “We don’t get surprised.”
MRI has done personnel searches in Massachusetts communities from Lexington and Acton to Hanover, Dighton and Carver.
“I don’t think there’s anybody better in New England,” Gould said. “We know who’s available. We know who’s out there looking.”
He complimented the board for the straightforward request for proposal drafted to guide Hanson’s town administrator search.
MRI does everything from drafting and posting the ad to a comprehensive background check.
Gould, a retired police chief, described the background check as one involving a complete financial work-up, driving records and employment history and conducts pre-interviews with candidates, as well as department heads, citizens and any search committees used in hiring communities.
“We wouldn’t put anyone in front of you that we wouldn’t hire,” he said.
While Hanson is not using a search committee this time out, selectmen expressed interest in meetings between MRI and department heads and interested residents.
“We’ve had some lively discussions at senior centers after lunch,” said Stapscynski. “And we ask what are the challenges [to towns]. What’s important here? And we’ll hear traffic, we’ll hear residential growth, we want more commercial development or parks and playgrounds, and that’s good for us. Doing the search of the next town administrator, we’ll have a good idea of the fit.”
Essay questions are filled out by applicants and early-round telephone interviews are conducted with at least two MRI representatives on the phone, Gould said.
“Every community has challenges and we can find candidates that have dealt with them,” he said. One of the last questions they ask is whether they will find any embarrassing information when they Google an applicant’s name.
“We’ve already done that,” he said. “We’ve got two or three pages [at hand] sometimes of any time they’ve appeared in the press, any issues that are out there.”
Selectman Kenny Mitchell noted that compensation has become an issue with previous town administrators and asked when MRI would discuss that issue with the board.
“Where do we need to be to be on an average and get that right?” he said.
Gould said Hanson probably needs to be a little above the salary it now offers.
“We would want to get you to a salary that could be competitive,” he said. “We always like to post a salary range with the top number you could possibly offer.”
During phone interviews, MRI finds out information about candidates that includes their salary worth.
“I don’t want you to fall in love with a candidate and not be able to shoulder the cost,” Gould said. “At the same time we want candidates to know the value of the opportunity here.”
Gould said he usually comes back to select boards with three-to-four final candidates, with three being ideal.
Interim Town Administrator Meredith Marini asked how long the process would take in view of her pending retirement plans in December.
“2019?” Gould asked with a laugh.
He estimated, seriously, that final candidates should be available in 60 days with background investigations taking two to three weeks followed by contract negotiations.
“I would hope it would be Dec. 1,” Gould said.
Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett also said GovHR’s price was too high and she was not convinced they offered a better or even comparable product.