Construction, efficiency, and communication top accomplishments for new town administrator

Jul 25, 2019

Hovering over Shawn MacInnes’s desk on the top floor of Town Hall is a large whiteboard, listing dozens of projects big and small.

Some are crossed off as complete, but many others are not, as MacInnes looks to the past, present, and future following his first full year of being Dartmouth’s Town Administrator. 

A lot has changed in Dartmouth since his first day on the job on July 9, 2018. One of his first major tasks upon coming on board was dealing with 53 vacant town positions, including four department heads, from retirements and resignations. 

MacInnes noted that gave him the perfect opportunity to build a winning team in Town Hall. That included the addition of a systems analyst position to help implement technology goals. 

“There’s a number of teams that I’ve established to deal with a variety of issues, from Bliss Corner and Lake Noquochoke, but we also have a finance implementation team, there’s a lot. Any time we have a large project… I like to leverage the skill sets of the employees.” 

MacInnes has focused on laying the groundwork for four main goals in his first year on the job: Make town government more efficient, expand economic growth, development, and redevelopment, keep the public informed, and form community and regional partnerships.

In efficiency, his biggest focus is on bringing online permitting and licensing to residents and business owners. A vendor has been picked to launch the service, which, when complete, will eliminate paper forms, and will be able to be tracked in real time by applicants and town officials. 

“Permits and licenses generate revenue for the town,” MacInnes said. “We want to make that process as efficient as possible.” 

A town-wide reclassification study was recently completed to look at job descriptions and ensure equity, and IT, custodial, and vehicle fleet maintenance staff are being centralized. Many town employee unions were in a bridge year, necessitating collective bargaining. 

With the fledgling marijuana industry expanding in Massachusetts, MacInnes is in the midst of vetting interested companies for the town’s first possible recreational marijuana dispensary. That could generate upwards of $200,000 per year in revenue for the town. 

“We hope to select a business applicant within the next month or so,” MacInnes said. 

In local and regional partnerships, MacInnes is working closely with officials from UMass Dartmouth to realize the “Town-Gown Compact” to its fullest potential, and ensure the town’s business owners continue to thrive. He has also worked with the Southeastern Regional Planning and Development District on a bike sharing proposal, and hopes to work closer with the area Chamber of Commerce in the future. 

In helping residents stay up to date on the latest news, MacInnes plans to give the town’s website a facelift, and introduce a new “project dashboard” feature to give residents a complete picture of major projects from inception to completion. The town website will also receive a facelift to make sure information is readily accessible. 

A lot has changed in Dartmouth since his first day on the job on July 9, 2018. Perhaps most visually, a new public maritime center was built and opened, and a new library and police station are close to completion. 

Behind his desk, construction crews started to lay new artificial turf for a major renovation of Memorial Stadium. Although he had a hand in the overall construction process, MacInnes noted the approval process -- done prior to his arrival -- was the real challenge. 

“Construction is the easy part,” MacInnes said. “It’s getting them funded — credit to the town and my predecessor for helping to spearhead these projects to get them funded, because that’s the hard part.” 

There might be more projects to come in the future: A feasibility study is planned to examine the possibility of an indoor recreation center in town, and MacInnes plans to take a look at any needs the Council on Aging might have. 

With so much accomplished, and a long list of things to work on moving forward, MacInnes is looking forward to working with town employees and residents going forward. 

“This year’s been great,” MacInnes said. “The people are great, the staff are really great. They’re dedicated to the town.”