What is next? What is the plan?
Several citizens last night asked the Barnstable Town Council those questions one week after Barnstable Town Manager John C. Klimm agreed to a buy-out of his contract.
Mr. Klimm’s last day would be December 15, though the contract amendment he signed last Friday puts him on leave beginning September 30.
Town Council President Frederick Chirigotis said he has already put a process in motion for the council to address the situation and he said the matter would be on the council’s next agenda on September 22, when he anticipates there will be a discussion, a recommendation and a vote on the next steps to finding a new town manager.
“We will continue to keep this ship on a straight course,” he said.
But one councilor, James H Crocker Jr. of Osterville questioned how Mr. Chirigotis was handling the situation.
Mr. Chirigotis said he had asked the town’s finance director and human resources director to draw up recommendations for actions for the council to take in order to fill the post of town manager.
“I asked staff to assist in our understanding the protocol and procedure” for forming a town manager search committee, he said.
Among the questions staff will address is what the make-up of the committee should be and what the costs of such a process will be.
He said the town charter states the council “may” appoint a temporary town manager for three months and then for an additional three months if needed.
He said he was forming a committee made up of himself, Town Councilor Debra S. Dagwan of Hyannis and Town Councilor Richard G. Barry of Cotuit to make recommendations to the full council on who would serve as a temporary town manager.
But Mr. Crocker read from the charter and said the wording is that the council “shall” appoint a temporary town manager, not “may” appoint a town manager.
He said the appointment is the job of the full council, and there should not be a subcommittee making recommendations.
Mr. Chirigotis said the issue is really when Mr. Klimm’s last day is: September 30 or December 15, because the contract amendment states that Mr. Klimm is to be on leave beginning September 30 and remain available for transitional assistance until December 15.
He said the full council will have a discussion and make a decision at the next meeting.
Mr. Chirigotis also said that it is particularly important during this time that councilors “stay in their lanes” and remember that they are a policy-setting board and not the chief executive officers of the town.
Town Councilor Henry C. Farnham of West Barnstable said he believed the process for constituent service, requests for repairs of potholes, for instance, was to e-mail those to department heads and copy the town manager.
Mr. Chirigotis said the process is that requests are to go to the town manager’s office, not directly to department heads.