No matter how the taxpayers of Bourne vote on Article 3 at Monday’s Special Town Meeting, the selectmen have obligated them to pay $127,500 through next June to Thomas Guerino, whose contract as town administrator ended on September 30.
Even a negative vote on the proposed expenditure will not stop the payments to Mr. Guerino. Acting town manager Glenn Cannon said the town will tap into unexpended funds from other accounts to cover payments to the new town administrator.
That’s no reason, however, for Special Town Meeting to go along with the funding request in Article 3.
The article provides an opportunity to thoroughly sound out and criticize the selectmen in what remains an appalling decision, effectively made out of sight of voters four months ago and only coming to light to most Bourne residents only a few weeks ago.
The $127,500 was included in the agreement signed after Annual Town Meeting between the selectmen and Mr. Guerino to extend his original contract to September 30 as a transition to the new administrator.
One of the selectmen has accurately pointed out that the agreement was filed at town hall and was available for examination as a public record by anyone, including the media. And it’s further true that no media examined the agreement when it was filed.
But it’s also true that the selectmen did not make a point of mentioning the severance payment, in contrast to announcing that Mr. Guerino’s contract wouldn’t be renewed and that he had agreed to work a three-month transition at his regular rate of pay. That was the big news; it’s not surprising that no one pressed for more information.
The selectmen, in fact, kept it so quiet that it came as news to one or more members of the finance committee who were only told at the last possible moment: in their required review of Monday’s Special Town Meeting warrant.
One final note: the taxpayers of Bourne, through a decision by the selectmen, effectively will pay $300,000 in the current fiscal year for the services of a town administrator: far more than any other town administrator or manager on the Cape is paid.
Is the expenditure worth it? Are the selectmen running the town the way they should be?