The City Council made tweaks to the description of what Watertown is looking for in its next City Manager, and will soon use it to advertise the position.
The job description calls for a salary of $200,000 or higher, with preference for someone with knowledge of Massachusetts municipal laws and operations, with good communication skills and strong personnel management and project management skills.
The draft of the job description was presented to the Council by Bernie Lynch, the consultant hired by the Council to assist in the search. The description also includes information about Watertown, and background of the previous manager, Michael Driscoll, who retired after working in the Watertown Municipal government for 45 years, the last 29 as Town and City Manager. Also, it included descriptions of the local government, education, the economy, and Watertown’s recreation and open space amenities. (See the draft City Manager job description here).
Lynch said the document was created after getting input from the Council, former Manager Michael Driscoll, Watertown stakeholders, as well as input from the 90 or so people who participated in the community forum and more than 350 residents and employees who submitted online surveys.
Councilors had some suggested edits and changes to the description.
Caroline Bays asked if the salary range, which was $200,000 +/- would attract the types of candidates the Council is looking for. Lynch said that that figure would be on the low side with communities around Boston paying at least $200,000.
“I think the $200,000 you have, for the type of manager that Watertown is looking for, I think that is almost your bottom line,” Bays said. “You may benefit by moving that up to $210,000, $215,000 plus or minus.”
Council President Mark Sideris suggested that the wording be changed to “$200,000 +” for salary.
Watertown has had mixed results when hiring a manager from outside of Massachusetts, said Councilor John Gannon. He recalled that one had a short, and unsuccessful tenure, but also said that another one hired from another state did a good job.
The wording in the draft for the ideal candidate included “Strong knowledge of municipal laws and rules.” After debating whether to add “Massachusetts” before “municipal laws and rules,” the Council agreed the description should say it is highly preferred that the candidate have a knowledge of Massachusetts municipal laws and rules.”
Two areas where Councilors said they wanted to see more emphasis in the description were around environmental issues and equity.
Councilor Emily Izzo noted that a lot of residents brought up environmental issues and initiatives, such as net zero energy schools, during the community forum. She asked if it could be included. Councilor Tony Palomba said he would like to include in the document that the City is creating an Energy and Climate Master Plan. Lynch said those could be added.
Councilor Nicole Gardner said that several people at the forum also brought up their desire to see racial justice and anti-racist policies as challenges facing Watertown. She asked that that be included in the document. Lynch said that, too could be added.
The draft included the following description of the community:
“Watertown, MA (35,329 pop.), is a thriving community that provides a suburban-like setting with urban amenities. Located just six miles from Boston, the City is a hidden gem offering many of the benefits of a smaller town with access to the economic, cultural, and educational resources of a big city. Cultural destinations like the Arsenal Center for the Arts are complemented by safe neighborhoods, a good school system, international food offerings, coffee shops, and fresh green grocers. The City, which has a diverse population including the second-largest Armenian population in the country, celebrates and supports the rich and varied cultures within the community. Watertown is a City in transition as it has been experiencing demographic and socio-economic changes in recent years.”
Councilor Lisa Feltner suggested that along with the Mosesian Center for the Arts, that the description also include the Armenian Museum of America. She also wanted to emphasize that the City Council has made a priority to fund the repair of streets and sidewalks, and she noted that sewers will be a challenge with the upcoming renewal of the City’s stormwater permit.
Palomba wanted to add that the City has created a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust.
Lynch said the Council’s comments will be incorporated into the job description and he would get it back to the Council by the end of the week. When it is ready to be published, he said, typically the ad will go up for four weeks.