STOCKBRIDGE — Mark Webber’s interim status as the town administrator has been extended six months by the Select Board, due to the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic.
The search for a permanent town administrator has subsequently been suspended until the fall. The Town Administrator Search Committee was formed in January and resulted in a pair of finalists vying for the position. It was unclear how many applicants the town received for the position.
The sought-out position by the town will come with an annual salary range of $79,500 to $100,000, varying on qualifications and experience, according to the job listing.
Initially, Webber had set a timeline goal to introduce the new town administrator at the annual town meeting, but the board has also opted to postpone the annual town meeting by more than a month to Monday, June 15, at a previous board meeting.
At the Select Board’s Thursday, April 9 meeting, the board decided to retain Webber in his interim position until at least Nov. 1, citing uncertainty in the hiring process.
“I’m not comfortable … thinking we can get through this town administrator transition process on the schedule that I proposed several months ago,” he said. “The search committee has gone through their process and they’ve chosen two finalists. But I think it’s kind of sketchy going forward.”
Webber recommended that the board hold public interviews with the two candidates at a later date, adding that the process would be put on pause rather than starting it over from the beginning.
“The transition is going to be problematic,” he said. “I’m certain that at least one of the finalists is engaged in his community today, as I am. With all of those elements … It’s just not a good time for a transition.”
The two finalists vying for the position are Michael Canales, chief administrative officer for the Town of North Adams, and Thomas Banisch, a former Select Board member in Madison, Connecticut.
Webber said that Bronly Boyd, chairperson of the Town Administrator Search Committee, was fine with the idea of extending his interim status to the fall.
Terry Flynn, chairperson of the Select Board, and Select Board member Roxanne McCafferey, both agreed and endorsed Webber’s suggestion.
“It saves disruption for our town and any other towns where those people are involved in,” Flynn said.”
McCafferey added, “It doesn’t make any sense to make a change right now.”
Webber formally retired after his last stint as the town administrator in West Stockbridge, but signed on for the interim position in Stockbridge in July. Although his interim status was supposed to conclude in May, Webber added, “The world has changed and I feel obligated to stay and help as best I can until we turn the corner, hopefully within the next six months.”
Webber also clarified that in Gov. Charlie Baker’s recently passed coronavirus-related legislation, his income earnings are no longer restrained due to him being a retiree and town administrator.
The board unanimously voted to retain Webber in his interim role for six months, effective Friday, May 1. The next Stockbridge Select Board meeting was scheduled for Thursday, April 16.