WHITMAN — Lisa Green has resigned from the Board of Selectmen, effective July 29, in preparation for submitting an application for the vacant assistant town administrator position.
Whitman has been without an assistant town administrator since Greg Enos left in April to take a human resources manager job in Ashland.
“While we haven’t fully pinned it down yet, we know we’re going to be seeking an assistant town administrator and she wants to be in the running for that,” Town Administrator Frank Lynam said. “We haven’t fully determined yet how we’re going to fill this job. Obviously we’re going to be advertising and seeking qualified candidates.”
Selectman Chairman Carl Kowalski agreed.
“We haven’t decided what we’re going to do with the position yet,” he said. The board meets next on Aug. 30. “At that point we’ll discuss the procedure for applying for the position, I expect she will be one of the applicants and I expect her to do well during that process, although I have no idea who else is going to apply.”
Kowalski said Green has been “a terrific selectperson while she’s been on the board, using her experience and ability as a lawyer for the town and for its citizens,” noting he is sorry to see her go, but that the process for hiring a new assistant town administrator would be an interesting one.
Green said Sunday that her resignation was timed to keep in compliance with state Ethics Commission rules requiring a 30-day period in which she has not served as a selectman.
“The law is very restrictive and they are very clear that I have to be off the board for 30 days in order for the Board of Selectmen to even consider my application [for assistant town administrator],” she said. “It was a very difficult decision. I enjoyed being a selectman for about five years now and I enjoyed working with all the other board members. It’s been a great positive learning experience.”
Her term would have expired in May 2017.
“I think Lisa has a lot to offer, however, we have to conduct a search and interviews — not a world-wide search, but we’re going to advertise,” Lynam said. “We’re going to see who applies. She’s certainly got a lot of things going for her. … She understands the system.”
Lynam said he finds Green’s legal background appealing.
Green said she would enjoy serving the town on a full-time basis rather than part time. She has served as a selectman for five years and is an attorney for the Commonwealth working for the Social Security Administration in claims investigation. She has stressed her interest in the management of the town.
“I do have a law degree,” she said. “I have been involved in a lot of things with Whitman in the last five years.”
She citied her participation in contract negotiations, among other projects that have “improved the well-being of the citizens of the town.”
She also said she has respectful and positive working relationships with Town Hall staff and could be helpful in securing grants for improving the town.
“I put my full heart into everything that I do,” Green said, noting that while her fellow selectmen — who have not been in contact with her, likely out of respect for ethics regulations — were probably not surprised by her decision.
“They know the position was open and they knew I had expressed interest,” she said. “It was an honor to serve the citizens of Whitman and I thank them for putting faith in me for the last five years and we’ll see what the future holds.”
The board voted on July 12 to review and update the job description of the assistant town administrator position and the approach to take in seeking a new person for that job. Selectman Lisa Green recused herself from the discussion because she is interested in applying for the job.
Lynam said the position remains a vital one as he currently has $163,009 in projects pending for the Green Communities grant to deal with, as well as three projects under the Community Compact — $25,000 for a wage and personnel study, $15,000 for solar energy project analysis and some $10,000 for the reuse plan for the old Regal property — in addition to other management duties.
“We are approaching a year with four contracts up for renegotiation,” he added. “I don’t think there’s any question in my mind that the town is best served by maintaining the position of the assistant town administrator and I would like the board to consider moving in that direction.”
Voters at the May Town Meeting approved the line item to continue funding the position’s salary.
“I think we need to look at the description of it,” Selectman Dan Salvucci said of the assistant town administrator post. “We felt as if we needed one before, and it seems we still need one. … Do we want someone that will step into [Lynam’s] shoes eventually, or do we want somebody that just wants to be a good assistant?”
Kowalski and Selectman Scott Lambiase volunteered to work with Lynam on reviewing the job description and salary — about $63,000 — offered.
“Clearly, we want to hire someone who’s capable of functioning in my role when I’m not here,” Lynam said. “My biggest concern right now … surrounding towns are compensating people at a much higher level than we are.”
He noted one of the factors in Enos’ decision to leave was the then-$61,000 salary, which is less than some of the department head with whom he was asked to work in a management or administrative role.
The town is negotiating with the Collins Institute at UMass, Boston to conduct a broad-based wage and personnel survey of Whitman town employees in part because of Lynam’s concern about salary parity with other communities as well as job descriptions and expectations.
“I don’t think this survey will prevent us from making a reasonable analysis here,” he said. “But I think we have to talk about it a little bit and recognize we’re not going to hire somebody at the funding that the line presently has.”
Depending on the hiring cycle, there may be sufficient funds available to offer more money to start, but another Town Meeting vote would have to follow to increase the salary going forward if that is done, according to Lynam.
Selectmen, meeting next on Aug. 30, should have more information from the job description subcommittee’s work, with an eye toward hiring someone by the end of September or early October.