Orange Selectboard to decide on interim administrator contract

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-30-2023 5:16 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

ORANGE – The town is scheduled to discuss Wednesday the contract a seasoned public service veteran has proposed as he vies to take the reins as interim town administrator for six months to a year.

The Orange Selectboard interviewed Carter Terenzini, most recently the interim town administrator in Boxborough, at last week’s meeting and asked him to send a tentative contract by Tuesday so it could be reviewed ahead of Wednesday night’s meeting, which is slated to have an executive session to work out any major issues. Selectboard member Richard Sheridan was not present at last week’s meeting but the four others seemed impressed with Terenzini’s qualifications during the interview that lasted just over an hour. Terenzini would replace Gabriele Voelker, who retired on March 3, but is billing Orange for the hours she works as acting town administrator while the municipality finds a replacement.

“I’m a bit of a generalist. It gives me a chance to get my hands dirty in a number of areas, and I know just enough to keep the experts honest,” the candidate said last week. “So it’s been a great deal of fun for me.”

He predicted the contract could be signed within a week or so.

Terenzini said he has worked in public service most of his career, including stints in Grafton, Templeton and Spencer as well as towns in New Hampshire and the Massachusetts state government. He said he started as an administrative assistant to Pittsfield’s mayor and eventually became the commissioner of community and economic development. He explained he retired a few years ago “and quickly got bored.” His previous two jobs have been as interim town administrator.

“I enjoy the interim positions,” Terenzini said. “It lets me bring my experience to bear while the community is able to concentrate on either the main issue or finding that transition person. I enjoy meeting new folks, learning new things, perhaps bring some new things to the community.”

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The candidate also jokingly apologized for stealing Alec Wade, Orange’s beloved community development director, who left in November to take a job in Boxborough.

Selectboard member Jane Peirce thanked Terenzini for coming in for an interview and said she was familiar with his name, being a veteran of the state Department of Environmental Protection herself. She said she believes the town is in good financial shape with a talented team of professionals. She mentioned, however, that she feels Orange’s biggest challenge is proper adjustments to the town’s wage scale and predicted turmoil at the Annual Town Meeting on June 20. The 2022 Town Meeting lasted nearly nine hours over three nights as a result of requested salary increases for certain municipal jobs.

“I think that’s what you’d be walking into pretty soon,” Peirce told Terenzini, asking him how he would handle this type of situation.

Terenzini responded by saying it takes sensitivity to convey the importance of competitive municipal salaries to someone earning less money by working a demanding private-sector job.

“You have to find some way to get that across respectfully to folks in the audience,” he said.

Terenzini, who also praised Voelker, mentioned salary was not Wade’s deciding factor in leaving Orange. He said respect, accomodation and manageable workload were significant contributors to the decision.

“We always talk about … money is what drives everybody. It isn’t,” he said. 

Terenzini, who lives in Moultonborough, N.H., suggested a partially-remote schedule due to the commute. He said he has friends who will allow him to “bedroom surf” but joked that there might be limits to their generosity. He also mentioned the hourly rate in his proposed contract will seem high but that is only because the town would not contribute health insurance or a pension.

“I’m told I can be an acquired taste,” Terenzini said, adding that he has a good sense of humor and is known for being a tough negotiator that is also creative and fair.

Background

Terenzini has a complicated past, having generated controversy as town administrator in Spencer in 2007 when he distributed to municipal employees, selectmen and colleagues a memorandum – titled “The Rest of the Story” – to admit to an affair with a woman he supervised. He refers to “Maggots of Malice” and “Sultans of Sensationalism,” though he does not identify them.

He was removed from consideration for the town manager position in Oberlin, Ohio, when the affair and his failure to disclose it came to light.

Attempts to contact Terenzini were unsuccessful.

Contacted by phone on Tuesday, Peirce said she is aware of Terenzini’s history but the topic has not been broached within the Selectboard membership. She said she expects it to come up in Wednesday’s executive session.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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