Select Board chooses Yarmouth official for next town administrator

May 8, 2018

Dartmouth has a pick for its new town administrator: Shawn MacInnes, Yarmouth's current municipal operations director.

The Select Board voted 4-1 to appoint MacInnes to the town’s top post pending the outcome of contract negotiations, which will be scheduled on the board’s next regular meeting. He was the final of three candidates to be interviewed by the full Select Board for the post. Robert Peabody, a town manager in Maine, and Cape Cod consulting business owner Warren Rutherford were also considered. .

An engineer by trade, he began in Yarmouth's Department of Public Works before working up to his current role, which he's held for 21 years.

The vote comes after nearly 20 minutes of back-and-forth debate on proceeding to pick MacInnes, or any candidate, Monday night.

John Haran, who cast the lone dissenting vote, asked the board to consider interim co-town administrator and Budget and Finance Director Greg Barnes for the post.

Member David Tatelbaum suggested a quick additional search for candidates by the Select Board itself, but voted in favor of MacInnes.

“I like the man, I think he’s the most qualified of the three we talked to but there’s something in me that says we ought to take one more look see,” Tatelbaum said.

During his interview, when asked how to establish consensus on issues involving multiple elected boards, MacInnes highlighted his own experience working on local and regional issues involving numerous elected officials.

“It’s not rocket science, but it is communication,” MacInnes said. “It’s knowing what the needs are with the community. It’s really just being an ear, consolidating and filtering what they’re really looking for. That’s been my track record for success.”

Tatelbaum was concerned with the large scope of Dartmouth compared to Yarmouth, noting MacInnes would be going from managing a $15 million budget and 50 employees in his department to an $85 million budget and hundreds of employees.

“What’s interesting about Dartmouth to me is that it’s not very dissimilar to Yarmouth, and in fact our budgets are very similar” MacInnes said.

Tatelbaum also asked how he would handle the stfep up to a town administrator position.

“It’s more about being involved in municipal government, rolling up my sleeves and getting an intimate knowledge of operations.” MacInnes said. “I’m not concerned, I have a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities, I think I’ve shown that throughout the years. I can step right in and be a good town administrator.”

Mickelson asked how MacInnes would confront a need to tighten a municipal budget.

“My tactic is always to prepare for situations like that ahead of time so we’re not caught in a situation where we say oh we need to do some serious cuts right away,” MacInnes said, adding that he looks at yearly trends for various revenue and spending projections each year.

MacInnes suggested taking a look at fees, making sure the town’s fee structure is covering costs, and finding creative ways to decrease costs like identifying and solving inefficiencies.

When asked about major projects, he suggested initiatives like online permitting to make it easier on businesses to operate in town, bringing in new technology to reduce redundancies like a document imaging system for town information, a centralized online project management dashboard, and tackling vacant retail spaces. MacInnes said Yarmouth faced that problem, and foreclosed on blighted properties and turned them into green spaces.

The final three candidates were selected from a pool of 49 candidates who had applied to the job. A consulting firm hired by the town whittled that number down to nine to pass along to a screening committee to vet and come up with the finalists.