GROTON — Selectmen decided to postpone a formal start to discussions involving renewal of Town Manager Mark Haddad’s contract to allow new member Jack Petropoulos to do some homework on the subject.
When the issue came up for discussion at last Monday night’s board meeting, Petropoulos asked if there might be more public debate by selectmen regarding the pros and cons of Haddad’s performance record.
The two-week delay came as a disappointment to other members of the board who, as Chairman Stuart Schulman pointed out, had some weeks’ warning about the agenda item and were prepared for a vote to begin the review and negotiating process.
“The town manager did a fine job,” said Schulman in support of renewing Haddad’s three-year contract.
Haddad even garnered some praise from board member Joshua Degen, who had been critical of the town manager in the past.
“Overall, I think the town manager has done a fine job running the town,” said Degen while admitting he has not always been happy with Haddad. “The town has been well served by the town manager overall.”
Haddad, who holds degrees from Suffolk University and Merrimack College, was chosen as Groton’s first town manager in 2008 and after a trial period was awarded a three-year contract in 2010.
Prior to being hired, Haddad served as the chief administrative officer for the town of Stratford, Conn., and worked as an executive vice president in business operations for Ventus Networks.
Haddad has also served as town manager for Cohasset and town administrator for Jamestown, R.I., and over his career, has gathered experience in budget formulation, union negotiations, and has overseen the completion of a number of public construction projects.
The town manager’s current contract expires on July 31, 2013.
Schulman had hoped to formally begin the review process with a vote last Monday night followed by negotiations involving himself and Degen under cover of executive session when needed, but a two-week delay was finally decided upon when Petropoulos asked for more time to prepare.
“I am too new and need more experience,” said Petropoulos of his position vis a vis Haddad.
A vote on formally entering consideration and negotiations aimed at possibly renewing Haddad’s contract will be taken up again at the board’s meeting of Aug. 6.
Also last Monday night, board members decided to continue to try and reach out to the Sewer and Water Commissions on the subject of waiving their fees for the new $8 million Center Fire Station project.
According to Haddad, due to differing circumstances, other municipal fees have been canceled but due to concerns about the need to raise their own funds for capital projects, the Sewer and Water Commissions have so far refused to accede to the town’s request.
Haddad said although the total fees would come to only $30,000, every dollar saved would help the taxpayers of Groton.
In researching the question, Haddad admitted that waivers had not been granted for other municipal projects such as school buildings, so refusal for the fire station project would not be extraordinary.
Selectmen decided to postpone the question to a future date pending a possible meeting with Sewer and Water Commission members to discuss their reasons for not granting the waivers.