Guerino Gets ‘Satisfactory’ Rating From Selectmen
By: Diana T. Barth
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino’s performance was rated “satisfactory” overall by selectmen. The board made its annual review of the town’s manager public at its Tuesday meeting.
Mr. Guerino’s overall performance was rated 2.3 out of a possible 4.Selectmen went over their review, and then zeroed in on several things they thought the administrator needed to do better.Several selectmen, Chairman John A. Ford Jr. said, thought the administrator “spread himself too thin,” and needed to delegate more, turning some responsibilities over to subordinates and committee chairmen.The town administrator also needs, Mr. Ford said, to hold department heads responsible for employees under their control.
“We appreciate all the hours you put in,” Mr. Ford said, “but I think we’re wearing you out.”Selectmen want to ensure that the town administrator transfers responsibility to the proposed new human resources person, whoever that person might be. They also want him to work on maintaining a professional attitude at all times, remaining conscious of the line between “boss” and “friend” in dealing with employees.
Selectmen want more transparency in personnel decisions. They also want quarterly reports on the landfill and the budget going forward, ones that note significant changes in operations.
They asked that the administrator review all contracts with them, including the Department of Integrated Solid Waste Management enterprise fund contracts.
They also want Mr. Guerino to coordinate the long-term plans for ISWM and the town.Selectmen said that a process for communicating with town counsel be set up and used consistently.T
hat all said, they also acknowledged Mr. Guerino’s perseverance through a difficult year.Mr. Guerino received his highest rating for community and public relations.
A close second was his financial management abilities. He received his lowest score for his management of town issues. Selectmen rated the administrator in five areas, the three listed above along with his relationship with the board and his progress toward goals.
Mr. Ford, who announced the results of the evaluation, said Mr. Guerino’s relationship with the board was rated satisfactory. That category, he said, covered how the administrator interpreted and supported the board’s decisions, informed members of what they needed to know, and worked with the board to set agendas.
Mr. Ford cited the need for better communication, particularly a need for the administrator’s personnel actions to be more transparent. The board also wanted more communication regarding the landfill. He said the budget was Mr. Guerino’s strongest suit, and he was rated as having given a “strong performance” when it came to financial management, which includes implementing sound fiscal policies, monitoring the budget and the town’s debt, as well as long-term planning. The town’s budget was on time, well-coordinated with selectmen, the finance committee, and department heads, and the town’s bond rating is favorable.
Mr. Ford said Mr. Guerino showed a “consistent, conservative approach” to finances.
His lowest score came in the area of town management that covers hiring staff, developing personnel policies, conducting annual reviews, and contract negotiations.
While his performance in that area was rated as “satisfactory,” selectmen noted that there were still some important positions open, including that of permanent fire chief, a post vacant for four years.Selectmen understood, Mr. Ford said, that there had been some major personnel problems this year, and that a human relations director was very necessary, but noted that some issues “could have been handled in a better way.” Not all employees received required annual evaluations.
Mr. Ford said selectmen felt that the administrator “tries to do everything himself,” instead of delegating. That leads, he said, to a lack of ability to follow up.Selectmen, he said, suggested that Mr. Guerino should reduce the number of persons reporting directly to him.
Mr. Guerino gave another strong performance, Mr. Ford said, in his relationship with the community, both locally and beyond. The administrator is effective with groups and has a good relationship with legislators and colleagues, making municipal agreements and regional services easier to coordinate.
He received a satisfactory rating for his progress in meeting the five goals for which he chose to be evaluated. Selectmen said he made insufficient progress on some of those goals, the one focusing on the landfill being a case in point. While the odor issues and other problems gave the administrator “a setback,” Mr. Ford said that the update the board recently heard on landfill issues should have been done far earlier, and such reports should be made at least quarterly.
Mr. Guerino said he appreciated the time and effort the selectmen put into his evaluation. He also said he would be putting some comments on the evaluation in writing.
The administrator said the hiring of a human resources director would do a lot to make his job easier going forward.He said it had been “a tough year,” the toughest since he was hired in 2005. At that time, the town was in a difficult financial position and needed an override to stem the practice of spending far more than it earned, thus, balancing the operating budget on reserves.
Mr. Guerino said that some of the requests, like that for quarterly landfill reports, would be “an easy fix.” Mr. Ford wished him good luck in addressing the issues selectmen identified. He said the board did appreciate the 14-hour days the administrator put in, but said he needed to be less of a “one-man show.
”“Nobody can keep up that pace,” Mr. Ford said.Selectman Mary S. Meli suggested a six-month check-in rather than just one annual review.
Mr. Guerino, in turn, said it might be helpful to have the review at some time other than the budget, Town Meeting, and election time, and that the upcoming Town Charter review committee might want to look at changing his evaluation time from May to, say, February or March.
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