Potential contract extension under fire

SWAMPSCOTT – There?s a controversy simmering in Swampscott over whether it would be appropriate for the outgoing chairman and vice chairman of the selectmen, both of whom are stepping down in April, to vote on a contract extension for the town administrator.Chairman Jill Sullivan and Vice Chairman Barry Greenfield have chosen not to seek re-election.The board held an executive session last Wednesday night to discuss Town Administrator Thomas Younger?s contract, which expires in June 2015.Following that meeting, Greenfield told the town?s weekly newspaper that he?d like to extend the administrator?s contract.The issue has sparked some discord among board members.Selectmen serve staggered three-year terms. Selectman Glenn Kessler?s term expires in April 2015. The two selectmen elected in April to replace Sullivan and Greenfield will serve until April 2017.Kessler, in a phone interview Monday, said while it may be impossible to stop a vote on a contract extension for the administrator, which he expects could come as soon as the board?s next regular meeting on Feb. 5, lame-duck members should not decide the matter.?The administrator has a year-and-a-half left on his contract,” Kessler said. “There?s no rush. This would take away power from the incoming board, whomever they may be.”Contacted by phone Monday afternoon, Sullivan declined to comment, maintaining that any board members who discuss the matter are “violating the terms of the Open Meeting Law and I am not going to do that.”No board members contacted Monday spoke about the executive session discussion, but a source who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Item that what?s on the table is a potential two-year extension for Younger, which Sullivan, Greenfield and Selectman Matthew Strauss are likely to support, while Kessler and Selectman John Callahan would oppose.Kessler said he decided to comment only after Greenfield made his opinion public. He emphasized he is not necessarily opposed to a contract extension for the administrator, but that it is not a decision for this time or this board.?(Younger) is meeting expectations,” Kessler said, based on the board?s performance review of the town administrator in January. “He still has plenty of time left. Before this decision is made, I?d like to see him exceeding expectations, and he may get there.”Younger, the town?s second administrator, started on the job April 23, 2012 and earns a salary of $130,000 annually.Callahan, also reached by phone Monday, agreed with Kessler.?My concern is that I?ve had less than a year to work with (Younger),” said Callahan, who was elected to the board last year to a term that runs to 2016. “There?s plenty of time left and I would prefer more time before judging him.”Strauss, a board member since 2010 and re-elected last April, defended Sullivan and Greenfield when contacted on Monday.Asked if it would be fair for the outgoing chairman and vice chairman to vote on an extension for the administrator, Strauss replied, “Why wouldn?t it be??The way I look at it, the combined years of experience on the board of selectmen between selectmen Sullivan and Greenfield is 10 years, opposed to their replacements who will have one or two years combined if a decision is put off.”Adamant the issue should be taken up “this year,” Strauss said, “These two individuals (Sullivan and Greenfield) voted to hire Mr. Younger and have worked with him from day one. They are more than able to decide whether to extend his contract.”Asked how he would vote if a vote comes up next week, Strauss laughed and said, “You?ll find out soon enough.”Greenfield and Younger could not be reached Monday.The board meets at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 in Town Hall.

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