Hinesburg searches for new town administrator

HINESBURG – Hinesburg town officials and residents are searching for a new town administrator, but the process of reading resumes and interviewing potential candidates for the post is being kept under wraps as the hiring process continues.

A seven-person Town Administrator Search Committee including Selectboard members Merrily Lovell, who acts as a de facto panel chairman, and Aaron Kimball, town employees and local residents started working in June to begin screening applications. An unknown number of applications are in hand.

But much of the labor the group has undertaken remains unknown because the panel decided not to release much information about the process to preserve privacy, according to Kimball. The town’s website contains a July 6 agenda for the group, but no minutes stemming from the meeting are posted and the discussions aren’t open to the public.

The deadline to submit applications for the post was June 23. Selectboard Chairman Phil Pouech said in May that the salary is slated to be based on “skill and experience.”

The southern Chittenden County town is looking for a new town administrator following the resignation in May of Trevor Lashua, who said he resigned from the post he held since 2014 to spend more time with his family. Lashua’s salary topped out at $ $69,360.20 at the time when he left the town’s employment, according to information from the town clerk’s office.

Kimball declined to talk about the number of applicants or identify them, or say whether they included Renae Marshall, the town special projects coordinator appointed to the post in May by the Selectboard on an interim basis. Marshall filled the administrator’s role temporarily about three years ago after previous Administrator Joe Colangelo left to become Shelburne town manager.

“We’ve started interviews,” said Kimball. “We’re narrowing down the candidates we want to recommend to the Selectboard, which we hope will happen in the next few weeks. We’re very excited to name who the person is because the town administrator fills a key role in town.”

The town Selectboard is charged with hiring the town administrator, Kimball said.

“Out of respect for the process, we’re not going to talk about specifics” said Kimball. “It’s a small town, and by that I mean the state of Vermont. We sought professional advice and we (the search committee) had that conversation right at the beginning about privacy.”

The committee hasn’t sought help from the town attorney, but Kimball said the panel did seek guidance from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

Vermont League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Maura Carroll said it’s becoming increasingly common for municipalities to keep quiet when interviewing candidates for town employee positions.

“Recruiting, even with a public position, is a personnel issue which affords some confidentiality to the process,” Carroll wrote in an email.

Carroll said at some point during the process, applicant names surface and potential employees are informed when names become public. “They can make a determination about whether to continue in the process or withdraw, depending on their circumstances.”

Earlier in this year, the Selectboard discussed moving away from the town administrator form of government to a town manager format. Pouech said such a change would require a town-wide vote. He said he anticipates the board will continue to talk about the two models.

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