Brattleboro Selectboard begins search for a new town manager

Thursday July 25, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Selectboard members met early Wednesday morning to talk about where they wanted to advertise for the newly vacant town manager position.

Former Town Manager Barbara Sondag formally resigned Tuesday at 5 p.m. Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland assumed the responsibility of interim town manager at 5:01 p.m. Moreland said he would not be applying for the full-time town manager position. Moreland has been assistant town manager for two years and he said he still has more to learn before applying for town manager.

The board spent about 30 minutes talking about the benefits, costs and limitations of online and print media advertising.

The town hired Vermont League of Cities and Towns to help lead the national search and VLCT recommended that the town spend a little more than $1,800 advertising mostly on online national job search websites. VLCT wants Brattleboro to use the International City/County Management Association website, along with Linkedin, and the Rutland Herald/Time Argus.

VLCT recommended that the town not advertise in other local and regional newspapers and some of the board members wondered if that is in fact the direction the board wanted to take. Advertising in print media would cost an additional $2,600 and the board wondered if it would be worth spending that money.

Board member John Allen said if the board went through the expense and trouble of working with VLCT then it made sense to take the recommendation and trust VLCT's strategy. Allen said he expects most of the candidates to come from a national search and not from local papers.

"For this amount of money we're paying VLCT we should trust them that they know what they are doing," Allen said. "If we are not going to go through this process every time we should have just done it ourselves. Why are we spending this money? We hired them for a reason. They gave us recommendations, and if we don't want to listen maybe we should do this ourselves and save the money."

Board members Donna Macomber and David Schoales agreed that the board should expect to get most of the qualified candidates from websites that are set up specifically for professional job searches. But board member Kate O'Connor said she wanted to reach people within the state who might not be looking at the national job search sites. O'Connor also pointed out that the state of Vermont still advertises in local papers and she said the town should not be so quick to delay putting its ads in regional newspapers.

"I'm afraid that if we use this we're going to get the same old people looking at this web site and sending in the same old applications," said O'Connor. "I don't know this for sure. I just feel like we're advertising to the same old people they advertise to all the time."

The board ultimately voted unanimously to follow part of VLCT's recommendation, and advertise on the International City/County Management Association website for now.

Board Chairman David Gartenstein and O'Connor said they would call VLCT to talk about the print advertising.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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