On Tuesday night, Chilmark announced it was going to conduct an internal review of its municipal employees and the overall structure of the up-Island town’s government to assess functionality and performance, with a possible eye toward improvements. To that end, a consultant will assist by interviewing town hall staff and other Chilmark employees to help craft recommendations.
Select board chair Jim Malkin said the review has been a long time coming. “A number of issues have been percolating for several years,” Malkin said. “I’ve been a select board person for seven, and prior to that was on the human resources board, as you know. And a number of issues came up in the course of that, I guess nine-, 10-year period, that are really tied to our effectiveness as an organization.”
Malkin didn’t specify what issues triggered the review. He said he has already brought up the review to several town officials, including town administrator Tim Carroll.
“Essentially we really haven’t haven’t changed our organizational structure in the town of Chilmark dramatically,” he said, “or reviewed our organizational structure, over certainly the time I’ve been involved, while at the same time, the town has grown both in terms of population, in terms of the regulations to which we need to comply, the demand put upon our staff, and the interactions of our staff, both internally and externally.”
Malkin said he’s had a discussion with the human resources board about bringing in a consultant to lead a structural and operational review “to see how we can be most effective and deal with issues we have now, as well as the issues we see going forward.”
Malkin said he discovered a member of the human resources board, Don Leopold (who is also a Dukes County commissioner), has relative experience. Malkin said Leopold has volunteered to be the town’s consultant in the matter. Leopold later confirmed he will be providing his services for free. Malkin said Leopold will assess and make recommendations. Specifically, Malkin said, he would “conduct individual, confidential, in-person interviews of staff and some others who we feel would be appropriate for their perspective.”
The “three key areas” that will be explored, Malkin said, were staff skills, roles, goals, and resources; “the processes that we have at town hall”; and relationships/“team dynamics.”
Malkin expects a report to the human resources and select boards by the end of August with findings and recommendations.
“I think it’s a really good idea that we, every 50 years or so, take a look at — from another set of eyes — how we do things,” select board member Bill Rossi said.
“I endorse the process,” select board member Warren Doty said. “It’s true, and I’m very aware, that running a selectmen-run small town government is not like running a business. We don’t have a flowchart with a nice pyramid with the CEO at the top. It is a tangled web of elected officials who are responsible to the voters instead of to the CEO. But it’s a good practice, and we need to do it.”
While favorably disposed to the review, the board took no vote on it.
In other business, Carroll, Doty, and Chilmark harbormaster Ryan Rossi told the board that following a sitdown, a Saturday and bad-weather-day hole in sunset shuttle service to Menemsha had been plugged.
“The meeting with the VTA, with Angie [Gompert, VTA administrator], was very positive,” Doty said. “We stressed that, you know, you can’t just not have it on weekends. And she responded by finding a driver. And so now we have service seven days a week. It was a good meeting, and she responded well.”
Doty also told the board that security cameras were installed on the harbormaster’s shack in Menemsha roughly a week ago, and are operational. Cameras proposed for the West Dock are on hold until a committee meets in September, he said.
“The cameras are very good resolution,” Rossi said. “They are fixed. They’re not pan-tilt zoom, as we expected, because the pan/tilt cameras interrupted the VHF frequency in the shack.” Nevertheless, Rossi said the camera’s have zoom capability, and are three in all, one facing north, one west, and one south.
Before the cameras were installed, there were some “incidents” in the area, Police Chief Jonathan Klaren said.
Rossi said the cameras would have helped investigate those incidents if they had been up at the time.
Rossi said somebody tossed out four gallons of hydraulic fluid in a trash barrel in the beach parking lot, and the next day somebody did something similar with two to three gallons of gasoline.
“They spoiled all over the parking lot, and made a big mess,” Rossi said. He also said there was a bait thief, and trespassers on boats angling for better fishing positions to the point of actually redoing the lines of boats to get the water access they desired.
As Dawn Barnes was at the close of her probationary period as treasurer, the board voted unanimously to formalize her as a full-time employee.