Board to consider scaled back manager search

Leadership on the Milton Selectboard has suggested scaling back the town’s next manager search to only in-state candidates, a concept members will discuss at their next meeting.

It will be the board’s first official step in finding the next manager in the month since Donna Barlow Casey exited March 22. In the interim, board members named fire/rescue chief Don Turner as acting manager, an appointment that, by charter, can last only six months.

Monday night, vice-chairman Ken Nolan suggested the board lead a statewide search without the help of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which has ranked candidates for an independent committee in previous searches.

“We’re looking for somebody who is familiar with the state and how it works and how it doesn’t work,” selectboard chairman Darren Adams told the Independent. “A nationwide search is not going to be able to produce that.”

The town has also learned VLCT is running several other searches and can’t assist until June.

Nolan suggested the board collect résumés and pare them down to a handful of finalists for public consideration. Typically, a search committee – comprised of townspeople representing different population sectors – does the initial rankings and passes the front-runners to the board.

Nolan thinks these groups can create conflict, either because folks who want to be on the committee aren’t appointed or because the board prefers other manager candidates.

“At the end of the day, the selectboard is the one that’s tasked with hiring the manager and making sure the town operates smoothly,” he said.

Adams and Nolan agreed five months is enough time to conduct a search. Adams instructed board members to bring a list of priorities for both the search process and the desired candidate to next Monday’s meeting.

Acting manager Turner has already solicited the latter from town staff. Documents show employees want an ethical, fair, transparent and motivated leader who doesn’t micro-manage and can stop the town’s high turnover rate.

Other preferences include requiring the manager to live in Milton or within 20 miles and “become immersed in the community.”

For his part, Turner has mostly stayed out of the search process as he mulls whether to throw his name in the hat. Monday night, he said he had much to consider before deciding whether to apply, including his role on fire as rescue – a volunteer commitment he’s held since childhood – and in the Vermont legislature, not to mention his other jobs as a realtor and developer.

For now, he’s focused on his and finance director Sarah Macy’s motto of “getting stuff done.”

“I’m 100 percent committed to doing that,” he said. “I love Milton, so it’s easy for me to want to see things move forward, get better. At this point I’m not sure I’m going to apply.”

As such, Turner has urged the board to move forward with a public search process.

“Most recently in the community it happened where an interim person was just given the job,” Turner said April 3, referring to the Milton School Board’s decision to hire superintendent Ann Bradshaw last March without any search process. “I do think it’s in the community’s best interest to make sure we at least put it out there.”

Nolan suggested advertising the job in Seven Days and on the VLCT website, options the board will consider at its next meeting.

Turner said whoever is chosen as Milton’s next manager will make an impact, especially considering major projects like the hourglass intersection redesign and tax increment financing to spruce up the town core.

“There’s so much opportunity and good projects that have been in the works,” he said. “The next manager has an opportunity to really deliver on a lot of things that will change this community forever.”

The Milton Selectboard next meets Monday, April 24 at 6 p.m. in the municipal building community room.

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