|By Levon Kinney|
WILBRAHAM Wilbraham will begin its budget season shortly after current Town Administrator William Fogarty leaves, which traditionally, in Fogartys words "is the most challenging time for a town administrator."
On Dec. 18, the Wilbraham Board of Selectmen interviewed three candidates for the position of Interim Town Administrator. Barry DelCastihlo, Mike Farrell and John Lovejoy were present at the meeting to answer the questions of the Selectmen.
Barry DelCastihlo, a former town manager for Amherst, was nominated for the position.
DelCastihlo, raised in Livingston, NJ, was on the path of a math major at Brown University.
"It was getting to hypothetical for me," DelCastihlo joked. "So then I decided to join the ministry. Someone suggested being a city manager and that was it."
He took a one-year course at Syracuse University in city planning. After graduating DelCastihlo worked as city manager for Durham, NC.
Selectmen Chair Dave Barry noted that DelCastihlos' next position was town manager of Amherst.
"You were the town manager for twenty-three years," Barry said, asking, "You must have encountered some difficult town meetings, what was the strangest?"
A few laughs from the audience followed.
"The downtown parking garage," DelCastihlo replied. "The sight was selected, then it was moved. Compromise after compromise, we had to keep going back to the drawing board. The sight was finally approved and we still faced opposition."
Selectman James Thompson asked if DelCastihlo could rate himself on a scale of one to five on several categories.
"Budgeting, personnel, and technology?" Thompson asked.
"Budgeting would be a four, personnel would be five, and my knowledge of technology would be a two and a half while support would be at about a five," DelCastilho replied.
Farrell was the next to be interviewed. Originally from Pennsylvania, he worked in town governments as town manager and also an interim town administrator throughout New Hampshire. Farrell currently works as a consultant for Municipal Resources Incorporated (MRI).
"It is like a town in a box," Farrell explained. "When municipalities need assistance in some way we try to help them."
"How did you end up as a consultant for MRI?" Barry asked.
"I got into consulting after fourteen years of managing Hooksett and Littleton, NH," Farrell replied. "I enjoy a challenge, flexibility, and a change of scenery,"
Farrell has also been what he calls a "serial student" receiving a Bachelors Degree, a Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters in Public Administration.
"Could you give us a description of the best town meeting you have worked on?" Selectman Pat Brady asked.
"The best and worst, or I should say shortest and longest," Farrell said. "Were both in Littleton, it is a small town just south of the Canadian border and there isn't much to do in the winter time. The longest meeting lasted four successive days and the shortest was when a selectman passed 40 warrants in one motion, this turned out to be the worst because no one knew what was being passed. The next day the town had a new fire engine and no one knew where it came from."
"Would your role at MRI conflict with being the interim town administrator?" Barry asked.
"The projects that I work on for MRI, like the wage classification I am supervising in Ipswich, leaves me being very flexible," Farrell replied. "For instance I haven't been to Ipswich since September."
"When there is a conflict," Barry asked. "What do you see as your role if you assume this position."
"The first thing I do when I come to a town," Farrell explained. "is to meet with the departments individually and find out if they have the resources to do their job, one of my greater strengths is conflict resolution."
Thompson asked Farrell to rate himself on his skills.
"My budgeting skills are about a four, personnel would be around four also and technology would be about a four or five," Farrell said.
Lovejoy was the last to be interviewed by the Selectmen, born and raised in Wilbraham, Lovejoy was a selectman for 12 years and has been actively involved in the town government for most of his life.
"I have been to around one hundred and thirty finance committee meetings and around forty-four annual town meetings," Lovejoy explained. "This transition comes at a very busy time of year and it can be very disorienting for the Selectmen and the town. There needs to be a seamless transition."
"Other candidates have direct experience with this position," Barry said. "What do you think would be your biggest challenge?"
"Trying to put together a budget," Lovejoy replied." I have looked at it very carefully and I think I could work well with all the parties involved."
Thompson asked Lovejoy if he felt comfortable with carrying the baggage that comes along with the position.
"I would try to keep myself in a neutral position," Lovejoy responded. "They are your decisions and I will just carry them out."
Lovejoy added that if he were chosen for this position he would step down from the Financial Committee on which he now sits.
"Do you have any preconceived notions about coming into this position considering your role in the town?" Brady asked.
"I would like to believe in the confidence of the towns department heads," Lovejoy said.
Thompson asked Lovejoy to rate himself on budgeting, personnel issues, and technology.
"I would give myself a four and a quarter to four and a half on budgeting, a four on personnel, and a two and a half on technology," he said.
Lovejoy added that he is a hands on person, some of the skills he could learn and others could be passed off.
"I am not daunted by these tasks however," Lovejoy said.
Thompson and Barry both picked DelCastihlo, while Brady at first gave his vote to Lovejoy.
"I am very intrigued by Lovejoy's proposition," Brady explained. "He knows the town just as good as anyone and I think it would be the seamless transition we need."
Barry replied that he felt he was much more comfortable with an outside opinion, that someone who lived in town would have a hard time separating themselves from the citizen side of their life.
After debating for a while, Brady decided to go with the other Selectmen's decision.