Dartmouth likely to have interim co-town administrators again

May 14, 2024

The town only has approximately four weeks left to prepare for Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes’ departure, but the Select Board has a solution that Dartmouth residents might be familiar with.

Once they accept a memorandum of understanding, Gary Carreiro, treasurer and director of budget and finance, and Chris Vitale, assistant town administrator, will take over as interim co-town administrators — with an anticipated start date of Monday, June 10. 

This happened before in 2018, when Greg Barns, director of budget and finance, and Deborah Melino–Wender, director of development — which is now a defunct position, served as interim co-town administrators when David Cressman retired. 

June 10 is the start of MacInnes’ vacation time, which he will take until his resignation date on Monday, July 15. 

MacInnes announced his departure in a Tuesday, April 16 email to town employees. He will leave to become CEO and president of the Columbia Association, a non-profit community service corporation that governs Columbia, Maryland, which is a “planned community” created by developer John Rouse with a population of approximately 105,000 people as of the 2020 census. Opening in 1967, it consists of 10 self-contained villages and is a census-designated place.

Prior to July 15, Carreiro and Vitale will be in communication with MacInnes, who they were already working with closely. Before their positions are made official, the Select Board will assist in defining responsibilities and establishing clear lines of communication.

“I think each one brings a set of skills that are needed for the position and will give this board and this community time to do a thorough search because right now the market isn't that great,” Select Board Chair Shawn McDonald said.

Select Board member Heidi Brooks said while she believes they can do the job, her concern was with adding this position on top of the jobs they already hold.

However, Carreiro and Vitale assured the board it would be manageable. Carreiro said the finance department is “where it needs to be” right now and with the recent addition of a town collector, he is more free to help serve as town administrator. 

While Carreiro and Vitale keep the town running in the interim, the Select Board will also be conducting the search to fill the position permanently — a venture both employees also plan to pursue, according to McDonald.

The town has received two quotes from companies looking to conduct the search: the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at UMass Boston is asking for $14,000 and Community Paradigm Associates, LLC in Plymouth is asking for $13,000.

McDonald said David Cressman, who served as Dartmouth’s town administrator for nine years before retiring in 2018, has also offered to conduct the search. The Select Board requested that  he submit a proposal similar to the two companies, which the board will review at a later meeting — tentatively, Monday, June 3.

Along with these decisions, the Select Board also voted to accept a new job description for the town administrator position, which included changing the title from “executive administrator” to “town administrator” in order to match the Town Charter. 

McDonald said the original job description had been written approximately 30 years ago and needed some reworking, adding how an out-dated description isn’t a good look for the town.

The recommended qualifications for the job listed include a bachelor’s degree in public administration or related field, a master’s degree in a related field and at least five years of experience as a municipal or private sector administrator or three years holding a similar position to town administrator. 

As town administrator, MacInnes made approximately $186,500 in 2022. A potential pay discussion has not yet taken place for the position, according to Magnolia McComish, communications coordinator.

The vote to change the description passed 4-1, with Select Board member David Tatelbaum in opposition. He said he believes the description should be more clear about the communication between the town administrator and Select Board.