Town hikes pay, reduces load to keep Chapdelaine

UPDATED, Feb. 14: An unnamed Vermont town tried to secure the services of Arlington's manager, but a new contract with a $28,000 raise is keeping Adam Chapdelaine here until 2019.

Adam W. ChapdelaineChapdelaine

Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013

The Board of Selectmen agreed Wednesday, Feb. 10, to pay the manager $200,000 annually starting the next day.

"Under the prior contract, my salary was set to be $171,023 as of Feb. 24, 2016," he wrote in n email Feb. 13. "Under the terms of the new contract, my salary will be $200,000 as of Feb. 11, 2016. After that, the contract allows for a 2-percent cost-of-living increase each year," through 2019.

He wrote that the position he was offered in Vermont was done so under a confidential process, so he preferred to not name the town.

Selectmen Chairman Kevin Greeley told the board he recently learned of Chapdelaine's intention to accept another job and moved to keep him.

 "We believe we have an exceptional town manager and [losing him] would be a tremendous loss to the community," WickedLocal quoted Greeley as saying

Other aspects of the manager's contract include a $2,000-a-month housing stipend and a reduction in the number of night meetings he is required to attend.

Further, the town will be creating an additional position under the town manager in order to lessen the manager's load. The town will now have an assistant town manager, a position that has not been offered during Chapdelaine’s time as town manager.

Chapdelaine said the selectmen heard his concerns, and he thanked them for the new contract that fits his needs. Those concerns include involve balancing work and family, the expectations of the job and the area's cost of living.

He said he was ready to leave, but now he feels "valued and humbled to stay."

The new assistant town manager position would be below the deputy in terms of Town Hall's organizational chart. Sandy Pooler has just started in that role.

A salary for the job has not been completed, but it is expected to start in the range of $90,000 a year. "We won't advertise the position until funding has been approved by Town Meeting," Chapdelaine said.

In his 2015 evaluation, Chapdelaine received consistently high scores.

"Fabulous," Selectman Joseph A. Curro Jr. told the board last March 9.

"Delighted with his performance," said Selectman Dan Dunn. "I hope we keep you around for a long time."

Greeley, who has been a selectman since 1989, said he had served five of Arlington's six managers and he thought Chapdelaine the best. 

The evaluation is separate from the manager's salary package, which was established last year under a three-year contract. Last year, he received $164,383; in 2015-16. It is $167,670. The other years are $171,025 in 2016-17 and $174,445 in 2017-18.

Chapdelaine came here as deputy from Fall River in 2010. He was named manager in 2012, succeeding Brian Sullivan.

Further context that led to contract

After coming out of executive session at the meeting, Greeley provided some context:

"One week ago tonight [Feb. 3], Chapdelaine informed me that he had an offer from another community." He had 24 hours to let that community know his decision and that he intended to accept the offer.

The town "did not want to given up without a fight." Thus, in a brief span, Greeley negotiated a new contract with the manager. After meeting with his board, Greeley said he he wanted to relay these messagse to the public: "We have an exceptional town manager ... there is none like him."

Greeley said he would have wanted to discuss a contract longer than three years, but that limit is set by the Town Manager Act.

He also noted that Town Manager Donald Marquis, who served from 1966 to 2000, had a deputy as well as an assistant.

"In my opinion, we dodged a bullet," said Selectman Diane Mahon, who agrees with adding the position.

Selectman Dan Dunn said that part of what is occurring in the new contract is resetting expectations, and that fewer might meetings makes sense.

Selectmen Joseph Curro Jr. noted that the town used to have a residency requirement for the manager and that following a Special Town Meeting, the rules was removed.
"To his credit, he moved here anyway," Curro said.

During this discussion, no mention was made of the size of the raise or how that compares with other communities similar to Arlington.

Related links

Feb 10, 2016: ACMi video on demand of selectmen's meeting

March 11, 2015: Town manager draws high scores in annual evaluation

March 26, 2014: Selectmen OK 2% raise, 3-year contract for Chapdelaine

2014 review 

This report was published Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, and updated to add a link and to adjust increase number in the lede.

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