Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Town's goals? To be set

Town Yard a possible priority for this year

By Neil Fater
The Andover Townsman

---- — More than three months into the fiscal year, selectmen have not yet set the annual goals for the town on which the town manager’s raise will be based.

But it appears finding a solution to the Town Yard — an issue that has seen different multi-million proposals in the last few years — will be one of these goals.

Selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia said Tuesday the board had a list of 10-15 goals, and planned to whittle these to three or four annual goals during one of its next two meetings. He acknowledged that “as we go through it, the year is going away.”

“We have a lot of things on the plate at once. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been as far at the top of the list as it should be,” Salafia said.

“Ideally, this would have been set earlier, no question,” said Selectman Alex Vispoli. “We had to get through the performance assessment of [the town manager on] last year’s goals.”

However, Vispoli said the selectmen also are looking at long-term goals that reach beyond this fiscal year, such as budgetary goals and construction solutions to the town’s Ballardvale Fire Station and preschool building needs.

Asked what his personal top goal or two for this year would be, Salafia said, “We want to get the town yard built – a town yard solution, I should say. The building is deteriorating.”

Salafia said his personal top goal would be to reduce budget costs, followed by creating this Town Yard solution.

“The No. 1 goal that we as a board, with the town manager’s input, [have] is a solution to the Town Yard,” said Vispoli.

Selectmen this year want to set up monthly or bimonthly updates from Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski, so that selectmen and the town have a better idea of the progress being made, said Salafia. He indicated this should help Andover officials to ensure all goals are 100 percent complete by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2013.

“There needs to be more stringent time checks – checkpoints,” said Vispoli. “They should be built into the agenda so they are hard and fast.”

“We don’t look at it as the town manager’s goals for the year,” Salafia said. “These are townwide goals that we all want to achieve. But some of them we know, if we incentivize the town manager to fast track [it’s productive].”

As part of his current contract, Stapczynski’s raise is tied to his ability to meet the goals set by selectmen.

Selectmen unanimously voted last month to grant Stapczynski a 2 percent raise and half-percent bonus for his work toward meeting last year’s four goals, lifting Stapczynski’s salary to $150,386.

Selectmen and Stapczynski had several disagreements over to what degree he achieved some of the goals during his review. The main disagreement revolved around a goal to reduce employee salaries and benefits by $225,000. As part of the goal, Stapczynski eliminated one full-time worker at the Spring Grove cemetery, but hired an outside company to do some of this work for $29,000.

Several selectmen argued Stapczynski fell short of the goal because the $29,000 used to hire a contractor shouldn’t be counted toward the “savings.”

In all, Stapczynski achieved 78.8 percent of all four goals, each carrying a different weight for the increase, according to selectmen.

Stapczynski has been town manager since 1990 and his current contract will keep him at the helm through 2015.

Information from reporter Jonathan Phelps was used for this story.