Bristol reopens search for new town administrator

BRISTOL — After its prime candidate to replace departing Town Administrator Therese Kirby declined a job offer, the Bristol selectboard is reopening its search for a new top manager.
“We offered the job, and the gentleman we offered it to didn’t accept so we’re going back out. That’s the gist of what’s happening,” said Selectboard Chair John “Peeker” Heffernan.
The search for a new town administrator began in late February when Kirby notified the selectboard that she would not be renewing her contract, which ends June 30. Kirby and her spouse will be moving to Brookfield, where she plans to start her own title search business. The selectboard notified Bristol residents on March 6 at town meeting. Kirby became town administrator in 2014, after serving as Bristol town clerk since 2006.
The selectboard approved a job description for the position at its March 20 meeting and had it posted soon thereafter. The statewide search drew six candidates, said Heffernan, three local and three from farther afield.
When Kirby was hired in 2014, the selectboard vetted 13 applicants and interviewed four.
Said Heffernan, “We’re curious as to whether it was the timing. At the time we advertised there were six other administrator/manager positions (being advertised statewide). We don’t know if that narrowed our pool.”
In late May, the selectboard interviewed three candidates and chose a finalist. On May 31, the selectboard then held a second interview with the finalist in executive session. According to selectboard minutes, the selectboard then entered open session and voted to offer the position to candidate Tom Badowski.
According to Heffernan, the selectboard made an offer to the finalist the next day.
Executive session minutes show that the selectboard next met on Tuesday, June 6, to discuss Badowski’s counteroffer and then authorized Heffernan to make a final offer.
At last Monday’s meeting, it became public that the counteroffer was rejected, thus reopening the search.
Heffernan said the job description remains the same as before and that as before the selectboard is casting a wide net to find the best candidate.
“We’re looking for somebody who’d be a good fit for the town,” he said.
Heffernan said the selectboard discussed a salary range after looking at towns of equal size and equal population. The job description itself specifies that “salary is commensurate with experience.”
“It really depends on the amount of experience the person has as to what we’re willing to offer,” said Heffernan.
The town administrator job description is posted on the town website, on the websites for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and similar websites in New Hampshire and Maine, and on indeed.com. The town will also post the job description in the Independent and in other local media. Applications are due July 31.
Heffernan said that current Kirby has told the selectboard that she is “willing to stay on in some capacity” while the selectboard resumes its search. Heffernan said details of that arrangement have yet to be worked out, but that it would likely be part-time.
“We’re only going to be able to keep Therese for so long,” Heffernan said.
Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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