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Canterbury resident petitions to eliminate town administrator

Monitor staff
Last modified: 2/23/2016 12:27:05 AM
A year and a half after Canterbury Town Administrator Ken Folsom was hired, a local resident has petitioned that the position be eliminated.

The petition article, submitted by Kay Cushman, a town resident for 48 years, reads: “To see if the town will vote to eliminate the position of Town Administrator.”

Speaking by phone Monday, Cushman said, “I think it’s just something we need to discuss. I don’t think it was done properly.”

Cushman said she wasn’t aware of how Folsom was hired. The hiring process is not documented in meeting minutes available online and examined by the Monitor, except that beginning July 7, 2014, Folsom is listed as the town administrator on selectmen meeting documents.

In addition to discussing how a town administrator is chosen, Cushman said she wanted town meeting attendees to talk about whether the position is really necessary.

“I’m not sure we need one,” she said. “I think the people need to know, is he helpful?”

Selectman Chairman Bob Steenson wrote in an email Monday that Folsom was the second town administrator for Canterbury. “The Board of Selectmen recruited Ken in June of 2014. His formal offer letter was dated June 18, 2014 and his official start date was July 7, 2014,” Steenson wrote. He added that Folsom replaced Roger Becker, who was hired at the end of 2007 and left at the end of 2013.

According to Steenson, the position was first proposed in 2006 through a warrant article that proposed to fund the position, but didn’t pass. A town government committee was formed and chaired by Ollie Fifield in 2007 to study the town government’s structure and functioning.

“The committee did a thorough analysis and concluded that an administrator was necessary,” Steenson wrote.

He added that a similar study was conducted by the selectmen in 2013 when Becker left the position.

“We selectmen functioned as the administrators for 6 months while we conducted the review and made changes to the job description and the limits of authority,” Steenson wrote. “Those 6 months reinforced just how totally impractical it is to operate a town our size in the 21st century without a Town Administrator.”

Cushman did not have a suggestion for who would take on Folsom’s duties if his position were eliminated and instead deferred to the selectmen. “Let them decide,” she said.

On the warrant, Canterbury selectmen did not recommend the article.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306,ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)


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