Select Board Approve RFQ for Town Manager Search Consultant

Goal of New Town Manager by February 2024

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Reading, MA — After the announcement earlier this week that Town Manager Fidel Maltez has been selected as the next City Manager in Chelsea, the Select Board met in a special meeting on Thursday to begin the process of choosing a consultant to organize the search for Reading’s next Town Manager.

Chair Jackie McCarthy opened the meeting by again congratulating Maltez on his selection. She reaffirmed, “Reading’s loss is Chelsea’s gain.” Select Board member Christopher Haley also noted that he understood why Maltez made the choice he made. “He’s going back home for his family,” Haley expressed. He also indicated that Maltez’s departure after only twenty months is not intended as a slight towards Reading.

Operations and Procurement Business Administrator Jayne Wellman shared a proposed request for a quote (RFQ) with the board. Given that the town completed this process only two years ago, the RFQ shared by Wellman was very similar to the one used in 2021. The RFQ presents a timeline that ideally executes a contract with the new Town Manager by February 1, 2024. After discussion, the board will accept bids for a potential consultant until October 19.

Select Board member Mark Dockser stated that he preferred the aggressive timeline. “If we need to adjust, we can,” Dockser said.  He also noted that much of the work in terms of community profiles had already been done, as much of the information had not changed in the last two years.  Dockser expressed that he thinks having at least one community listening session would be a good idea. Haley agreed that a community forum is needed to “allow people to voice their opinions.”

Select Board member Karen Herrick also indicated her agreement that much of the community listening and profile work that had been done two years ago was still valid and that time would be better spent recruiting great candidates for the position.

Attorney Jenny Merrill from Miyares and Harrington shared with the board that they are obligated to accept the lowest qualified bid as the presumed amount of the contract is likely to be over $10,000. Herrick inquired if the board was mandated to go through the RFQ process, expressing her concern about having to accept the lowest bid despite having had a good experience with the firm Community Paradigm in 2021. Merrill affirmed the mandate, explaining that the law is designed to protect taxpayer resources.

“If we are forced to go through this process again . . . great,” Herrick accepted.

After a few amendments to the document, the Select Board voted 5-0 to approve the RFQ. The board adjourned at 7:43 p.m.

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