Select board developing review plan for town manager


BENNINGTON -- There is no formal review process for the town manager position, something the Select Board, and the current manager want to change.

Town Manager Stuart Hurd said Thursday that in his 21 years on the job he has never had a performance review from the board. There have been several efforts in the past made by the board to develop a process, but each time the board became immersed in other concerns and those efforts stalled.

"A consistent effort to formalize the review process is not a bad thing," he said. "This could be very useful."

Board Chairman Greg Van Houten said he and a few members of the board wished to see a review process created, as all other town employees have performance reviews and it is a common practice elsewhere.

He said the desire to conduct a review is not based on any issue with Hurd himself, and the process created will be used for any new manager going forward.

The matter has been discussed at three board meetings now, the latest having been on Monday. Van Houten said each board member was asked to come up with ideas on how to go about it and bring those idea to board meetings. He said this method of having members work on it outside meetings seemed best, as otherwise things would get belabored.

Board member Thomas Jacobs submitted a draft calling for an annual review, during which the manager would work with the board to identify a list of goals. The board chairperson would guide the process and be assisted by a committee made of up three board members.

The draft appeared well received by the board and will be discussed at a future meeting after members have had a chance to read it and offer comment.

Van Houten said the review process is needed so there can be a track record established for town managers. He gave the example of Tropical Storm Irene which in 2011 was one of the worst disasters to affect Vermont in a century. The town had to respond on all levels and millions of dollars was moved between the federal, state, and town governments. Van Houten said there is no record of how well it was handled at the town manager level.

Hurd said Thursday he feels a review process will be good because it will outline clear goals the board wants addressed and will give him, and his successors, a way of showing what has been accomplished as well as establishing expectations.

Once completed, the review process will be added to the town's human resources policies.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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