Bourne selectmen signed a new, two-year contract with Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino on Tuesday that explicitly adds sections on “Performance Expectations” and a “Corrective Action Process.” It also, with Mr. Guerino’s agreement, allows selectmen to terminate the administrator without cause.
On the other hand, the document, inked this week, provides Mr. Guerino a small raise in base salary and a number of benefits. The new agreement, which takes effect on the expiration of this year’s one-year contract, will be valid for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, and grants the administrator a raise in base salary from $130,288 to $138,000 per year.
It sets out five specific duties, or “expectations” for the administrator.
The first two cover the administrator’s professional development, requiring the town to budget for, and Mr. Guerino to attend, the annual Town Managers/Administrators’ Conference, as well to attend courses that will enhance “his managerial skill set.”
The third expectation requires him to inform the board “on matters of policy or any matter where a significant financial impact will have an effect on the operating budget,” such as hiring, firing or the signing of contracts.
Fourth, the contract states that Mr. Guerino “agrees to take responsibility for his decisions,” and, lastly, that he “shall delegate authority to the department heads to autonomously operate their respective departments.”
Any first failure to meet those expectations would be met, according to the new contract, with a written warning; a second instance, by a three-day unpaid suspension. Any third failure would bring a five-day suspension. A fourth failure would result in termination.
Selectman John A. Ford Jr., who cast the sole dissenting vote when the board decided to offer Mr. Guerino that new contract in concept, said publicly this week that he voted against making that offer because he felt that if an administrator “needs a progressive discipline clause, he should not be granted a contract.”
That said, Mr. Ford agreed that the new contract as a whole was “excellent.” He moved to accept some minor language changes proposed by town counsel, which were unanimously approved by the board.
Mr. Guerino’s new contract includes some other changes from the current document. What were automatic 1 percent raises are now merit raises of up to 1 percent that may be offered based on performance reviews. The time of the administrator’s annual review is changed from May to December, moving it away from budget, Town Meeting, and election season.
With Mr. Guerino’s agreement, a provision takes the administrator’s contract out from under Bourne’s Home Rule Town Charter, superceding that document. Town Counsel Robert S. Troy explained to selectmen Tuesday that the charter, which states that the town administrator be appointed for an “indefinite” term, makes it virtually impossible to terminate an administrator without cause. He said that charter provision allows the board no “flexibility” in appointing an administrator or renewing contracts, and probably should be changed at some time in the future. He thanked Mr. Guerino for acceding to the contract provision that supercedes it, preventing a need to litigate the issue.
Under the new contract, as approved, if Mr. Guerino is removed for reasons other than “for cause,” he will be entitled to six months of severance pay and will receive health, dental, disability and life insurance for 12 months, along with all accumulated and accrued vacation leave. If he resigns, he needs to give the town 60 days prior notice or he forfeits up to 35 hours of accrued vacation and sick time.
Mr. Guerino also has use of a town vehicle 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, a change from his previous contract, which limited that use to town-related business.
Selectman Earl V. Baldwin said he thought the contract was fair, and Chairman Donald J. Pickard said that the board can look forward to “getting on with doing the business of the town.”
Selectman Peter J. Meier recused himself from the vote on the contract because his mother is a town employee.