WHITMAN —Town Administrator Lincoln Heineman has resigned from that position, effective Monday, Aug. 15 Select Board Chair Randy LaMattina announced following an executive session of the board during a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25.
The board had also voted, during that executive session on the topic, to appoint Frank Lynam as interim town administrator, a post he has been working in an acting capacity since Aug. 9.
Lynam suggested that a search committee be appointed to hire a new administrator, which the board approved. Serving on the committee will be Select Board member Dr. Carl Kowalski, Finance Committee Chair Richard Anderson, a public safety chief and Lynam and resident John Galvin as citizens at-large.
“I would suggest we start it fairly quickly,” he said of the selection. “If, for no other reason, that I would love to see someone come here and I will go back to my previous most recent occupation, which is playing with my grandchildren and relaxing at home.”
When the town conducted its last administrator search, the firm of Community Paradigm was hired to do that work, Lynam noted.
“My concern with that process is, it seems — particularly with all the activity occurring now among different towns with administrators and managers retiring or otherwise leaving for other positions — that a list develops of available people,” he said. “It’s the same type of list that’s continually recycling.”
He said that, with the collective talent among the Select Board, and with the assistance of some citizens, they could do “as good or better” a job than the consultant firm did.
Kowalski volunteered his services on the search committee as did Galvin, who was attending the meeting. Lynam offered his services based on his experience on the Finance and Select boards as well as 18 years as town administrator.
“I think I have some value to offer the board in serving on that search committee,” he told the board. “My only vested interest is seeing someone who can lead the community with your direction in a more productive and positive way.”
Galvin has been very active on town committees in recent years and has a skill for research, Lynam said indicating he was “reasonably sure” Galvin would accept. He did.
Kowalski said all members of the Select Board would have the opportunity to review résumés and ask questions of applicants.
Select Board Vice Chair Dan Salvucci asked if they would be looking at hiring an assistant administrator at the same time.
“I think it would be very difficult for a committee to try to fill both positions at the same time,” Lynam said, but he said the responses for the administrator post may point to some applicants who, while they might not be prepared to be a town administrator, could have something to offer on that track.
He said the board’s focus on someone to work primarily on grants and personnel management as an assistant town administrator.
Select Board member Shawn Kain suggested that town employees be asked for their feedback to give them a voice in the process, which Lynam thought would be helpful.
The town is also working to replace departing Treasurer/Collector Mary Beth Carter.
“I had hoped to bring some encouraging news here,” Lynam said about that position. “We had reached out, with the help of our current TC, who, we hoped would be able to step in for us.”
Unfortunately, the person spent 4.5 hours on Wednesday, Aug. 24 and left “with a migraine, and said ‘this is way too much work,’” he said. “It kind of sheds a little light on the sophistication and level of what’s required in Whitman for a treasurer/collector.”
While the person had more than 18 years of experience, she had not done utility or trash billing, which are routine for the office in Whitman.
Lynam recommended that he reach out to another candidate he has in mind who is currently serving in a municipal treasurer role as well as the Select Board’s consideration of the practicality of an elected treasurer and give thought to reaching out to the citizens of Whitman with the aim of changing it to an appointed one.
“The majority of such positions around the state are appointed, and for good reason,” he said. “While an election does allow the voters to say, ‘This is the person I want,’ an appointment allows the town to evaluate the qualifications and the skillset of the person who would be handling the investment of town money and working to collect taxes and discharge all the duties that a treasurer and collector are required to do under Mass. law.”
He encouraged the board to place the issue on it’s next agenda.