Town Administrator's Performance Improving, Selectmen Say
By: Diana T. Barth
Bourne Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino, who received a one-year contract extension at the hands of selectmen recently, heard that his performance had improved over last year.
Selectmen gave Mr. Guerino two and a half points out of a possible four, just barely edging his score into the “strong” performance category, up from last year’s “satisfactory” rating.
During the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday evening, Chairman John A. Ford Jr. likened the rating as going from a grade of “C” to a “B.”
Former selectman Stephen F. Mealy, who did not run for reelection, joined the board for discussion of the review. Mr. Mealy, Mr. Ford, former selectman Mary S. Meli and Selectman Donald J. Pickard rated Mr. Guerino’s performance at a satisfactory level. Selectman Jamie J. Sloniecki’s rated him as “strong,” Mr. Ford reported.
Newly elected Selectmen Earl V. Baldwin and Peter J. Meier did not participate in the review.
Mr. Ford announced that the administrator received a satisfactory score of 2.4 for both his relationship with the board and his performance in implementing the board’s chosen goals. Mr. Ford said that the administrator was making progress in improving his relations with board members.
Mr. Guerino was rated as “strong,” and given three points, for both his financial management and his relationship with the community.
The majority of the board, Mr. Ford said, felt that financial management is Mr. Guerino’s “strongest asset,” He credited the administrator, and the financial team Mr. Guerino put together, with having guided the town through tough economic times, staying within the selectmen’s guidelines for the budget, and for the fact that the town’s bond rating was recently raised.
Mr. Guerino received his lowest score, a “satisfactory,” this time with two points, for his management of the town and its personnel. Mr. Ford said selectmen saw no improvement in the administrator’s delegation of tasks to others.
Selectmen had also wanted to see reorganization proposals, adding that the administrator’s “span of control” over 19 department heads was “excessive.” They also wanted to see him move faster in setting up written policy and procedures.
Mr. Ford also reported that some selectmen felt the administrator was not forthright with them, particularly in regard to past personnel issues. He said that when the administrator makes a mistake, he needs to “own up.” Mr. Ford also said that, in essence, Mr. Guerino needs to work to build a better climate of trust with all of the board’s members.
Mr. Ford said the administrator continues to struggle to maintain a level of professionalism with staff members at all times. There have been some important issues that could have been handled differently in the past, he said. Mr. Ford added, however, that he thought the administrator had learned from what he called “those indiscretions.”
He said he thought the hiring of a human resources director would help Mr. Guerino ensure that, for example, annual evaluations of all department heads were completed and that town employees had a policy manual.
Mr. Ford suggested that the administrator attend a professional development seminar and work on delegating more.
Selectmen had some kudos for the administrator, as well, praising him for the work done on town-owned properties, including the former Hoxie and Coady schools, the advocacy leading to the hiring of a human resources director, and his successful negotiation of labor contracts.
Mr. Guerino, after listening to his review, thanked selectmen for the efforts the board put into the review.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Monument Beach resident Kathleen Donovan rose to tell Mr. Pickard that she thought comments made at the selectmen’s last meeting, concerning the administrator, were uncalled for. Mr. Pickard had said that Mr. Guerino’s one-year contract extension was “a vote of no confidence” and that the administrator had cost the town a considerable amount of money. Mr. Pickard said he appreciated her input and that he had also heard people say that his criticism was mean-spirited.
The comments were made, Mr. Pickard said, out of frustration. He said the town pays the administrator $130,000 a year, and that his performance has been “satisfactory” for a couple of years, and was 2.5, or “strong” this year.
“Frankly,” Mr. Pickard said, “I wish we had a town administrator we could rate 3.5 or better.”
Mr. Ford ended that discussion by saying it was time to “close that chapter.” He said it is the start of a new year, with new board members, and that he is confident that the administrator would continue to improve.
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