Brattleboro board opens third round in town manager search


BRATTLEBORO -- It has been almost one year since Barbara Sondag resigned as Brattleboro's town manager. Sondag announced on June 18, 2013 that she had accepted a job in Olivette, Mo., and she left town for her new job on July 25.

Since then the Selectboard has held two different searches, most recently interviewing two of its top candidates. In the first search, the town received 62 applications, and even though the Selectboard held interviews with some of those candidates, in the end an agreement could not be reached.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the board announced it was opening a third search. The deadline to apply in this round is Aug. 18.

In its second search, the town received 43 applications and at least two serious candidates had sit-down interviews with the Selectboard, with members of the Town Manager Search Citizen Committee and with town employees. Two of the candidates received an offer from the town, but it was turned down.

The first candidate who was offered the job actually took a job in his hometown, said Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein.

"This candidate came with a strong background in working in government and had a very strong progressive vision. He would have been a good match for the town."

A second candidate was then offered the job, but the day before he received the offer he had taken a job in his home state.

In the first round, the board believed it had a candidate that was appropriate for the position, but an agreement with that person could not be reached because, Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein told the Reformer in May, "The benefits and relocation compensation the candidate wanted was in excess of the advertised range."

In the first round, the board set the salary range from $75,000 to $90,000, and in the second round, the board raised it to $80,000 to $95,000.

During Tuesday's night meeting, Gartenstein talked about the process involved in screening and interviewing candidates.

"It was very clear this was a confidential process," he said. "We made a commitment to candidates for confidentiality and we asked everybody to honor it ... Selectboard members, employees and the members of the citizens committee. Unfortunately, there was an article in the newspaper providing information about the town manager search process that really should have remained confidential at the time."

Gartenstein said it was unfortunate that the chairman of the citizens committee chose to spoke with the Reformer and at a future meeting, the Selectboard will need to discuss reconstituting the committee for the third round.

"We want citizens to participate, but confidentiality needs to stay that way," he said.

Meanwhile, Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland keeps plugging along in the position he has held for almost a full year now.

Moreland said after Sondag resigned that he was not interested in the job at the time and he did not apply for the open town manager position. When he accepted the role of interim town manager his salary was increased from $64,155 to $66,085.

"I can certainly confirm that I was a candidate in the second round," said Moreland. "I make no secret of that. Am I a little disappointed? Yes. But it's a difficult decision and I know the board is working in the best interests of the town."

Moreland said he will more than likely submit his application in the third round, as well.

"I look forward to the outcome of the next search."

In May, Gartenstein said that he and the board have been completely satisfied with Moreland's work.

"The Selectboard feels at this time, given the work Patrick is doing, there is no immediate urgency to hire another town manager and that we have time to reopen the search," Gartenstein said. "Patrick is working very hard and has done a very good job representing the interests of the town and overseeing town services and finances in his position as interim town manager."


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