The Shelburne Selectboard, following a closed-door session Tuesday, reached a tentative four-month agreement with Lee Krohn to serve as the interim town manager. The Selectboard also picked 10 of the 13 members for the screening committee for a permanent municipal manager.
Krohn’s annual salary of $93,000 will be pro-rated to cover him from April 23 to Aug. 31, Chairman Jerry Storey said.
Krohn, who lives in South Burlington, will be filling in for Town Manager Joe Colangelo, who has resigned to accept the manager’s post for the town of Hanover, Mass. at the end of the month. Colangelo just got a raise to $110,000 a year.
The proposal with Krohn was not without some concern by at least two Selectboard members. Selectboard member Mary Kehoe said when Krohn’s name was first mentioned a week ago at the board’s annual retreat, she was under the impression Krohn was going to be on loan from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, where he is employed as a senior planner.
Now she is learning that he is actually going to become a full-time town employee with complete benefits.
Selectboard member Dr. Josh Dein said the selection process was flawed when it was brought up last week. He called it “rushed, and in my opinion, inadequate.” He had questioned why more names were not considered.
Storey proposed Krohn at the board’s recent annual retreat and sought a motion to move forward. Dein had asked about other names at the time and Storey mentioned three others, but none had past experience as a municipal manager.
Town residents had suggested at least four people with experience as town managers to fill in for a few months and be able to hit the ground running. None of those were mentioned or proposed at the meeting.
Vice Chairman Jaime Heins said he understood the confusion.
“It was less than a perfect process.” Heins said. He noted that Shelburne, as of Tuesday, was down to 17 days before Colangelo departs.
Dein said he would have liked the board to discuss the details more, such as whether the interim manager should be a part-time or full-time appointment.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, local resident Linda Riell told the board she hopes the process to select a permanent manager goes smoother.
Storey said the board had voted to give him and Heins the authority to negotiate with Krohn, who will resign from his regional planning job to be a town of Shelburne employee.
Local resident Kathy Brooks, who works in human resources, cautioned that making Krohn a town employee has additional financial implications for Shelburne taxpayers beyond the length of the contract when it comes to him possibly claiming certain benefits.
Krohn, who was sitting in the back of the room listening to the exchange, went to the microphone to try to resolve some issues. He said the decision to be an employee instead of on loan from the regional planning commission was made for a couple of reasons. Krohn said they included that any decision he makes as manager would be in the best interest of Shelburne, his employer, and not regional planning. He said the move would help him avoid answering to two bosses.
Krohn added that he intends to return to the regional planning office when the interim job in Shelburne is finished.
The board eventually went behind closed doors and came back to public session to approved the proposed agreement 3-1 with Dein opposed. Dein said nothing he heard in executive session had changed the problems he heard earlier.
There is one minor pending issue, Storey said, that should be worked out later this week after meeting with Krohn.
Storey told the Shelburne News after the meeting adjourned that Krohn will receive all the standard benefits including health and retirement that are provided to town employees. The board also agreed to approve a long-planned 10-day summer vacation that Krohn had booked.
The town also agreed to cover his mobile phone and data costs and to provide him a $1,250 car allowance for the four months. He also may spend up to $1,500 for his professional development by attending conferences and training.
The Selectboard can terminate the contract on a majority vote and he will be paid one-month severance. The contract does provide for up to two one-month extensions.
Under the contract, the town acknowledged Krohn is a professional photographer and also a volunteer firefighter in Shelburne and he is encouraged to continue in those fields, but the town expects him to prioritize his work as interim town manager above any other professional obligation. He is prohibited from being paid as a volunteer firefighter during the contract period and agreed not to undertake any professional photography during working hours for the town.
The Selection Committee
The Selectboard took the first step toward finding a permanent town manager by selecting 10 local residents to be part of the screening committee.
Each Selectboard member was allowed to pick two local residents without objections from any board member.
Jerry Storey picked Roger Preis and Tim Pudvar; Jaime Heins selected Amy Berger and Jane Zenaty;
Dr. Josh Dein chose Linda Riell and Thomas Murphy; Dr. Colleen Parker recruited Bruce Lisman and Kristina Guerrero; Mary Kehoe named Doug Merrill and Mark Sammut.
Three other at-large members were added, including Kathy Brooks, who served on the hiring committee when Colangelo was hired and has a background in human resources. The final two are still to be determined, but state Rep. Jessica Brumsted, D-Shelburne, and possibly a school board representative have been mentioned.
Heins proposed somebody with a strong background as a municipal manager like Rick McGuire, the current town manager in Williston.
The Selectboard also is considering having two ex-officio members to provide assistance to the selection committee. Brooks noted that four years ago a member of the police department and wastewater department both served and proved to be extremely helpful in explaining daily operations of the various departments.
Parker suggested Ann Janda, the director of administration, as one possible addition. Town Clerk Diana Vachon was also mentioned because she is independently elected. Dein said he thought it should be up to the town staff to decide who represents them.
Storey said he hopes the committee can have its first meeting April 26.
The board also debated how many finalists the committee will be asked to provide. The Selectboard appeared to prefer that at least two finalists and not more than five would be good. They said they did not want to set a number of finalists and then miss qualified people. Storey also suggested that the Selectboard would be able to see all of the resumes.
The Selectboard continues to joke about the outdated photograph of the board on the Shelburne town website. The photo still has former members John Kerr and Gary von Stange in it. They were replaced by Heins in November and Kehoe in March.
Town Manager Colangelo, who took an official portrait of the present board after the March election promised he would update the website.