LYNNFIELD — Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan’s extensive budget and collective bargaining experience were the deciding factors in selectmen’s decision to name him the town’s next town administrator.
Dolan, Melrose’s mayor since 2002, and Robert Curtin, the town’s assistant to the administrator, were the two finalists to replace James Boudreau. Boudreau accepted the Scituate administrator’s post last month.
“The goal for the Board of Selectmen is to strengthen the financial standing of the town to get to a triple A bond rating,” said selectmen Chairman Christopher Barrett. “Mayor Dolan has a strong track record taking Melrose from a single A rating with a negative outlook to a double A-plus rating.”
As Lynnfield faces capital needs, including building a new library and looking at its public safety facilities, Barrett said Dolan also has a strong background leading library and school building projects in Melrose.
“With his resume and the experience he has as mayor, I think he is the best choice for town administrator,” said Barrett.
Wednesday night, the board voted 3-0 to enter into contract negotiations with Dolan for the position. The town advertised it with a salary of $160,000-plus, looking to keep the salary below Boudreau’s departing salary of $187,000.
“There’s a specific type of person we are looking for as town administrator,” said Selectman Phil Crawford. “The town administrator is the chief financial officer of the town, and the mayor has vast experience not only as a financial manager, but also working with unions and the community.”
Selectman Richard Dalton voted in favor of the appointment in order to make the motion unanimous, but he said Curtin was his top choice for the post. Curtin has been assistant to the town administrator for eight years, and for a quarter century previous, he was the editor of the Lynnfield Weekly News.
“It boils down to that I’ve known (Curtin) for 30 years and I have worked with him first-hand,” said Dalton. “He is held in the highest regard. Bob, I think understands the town better than someone from the outside would. He already has the trust and respect of everyone in town, and I consider that important.”
During Wednesday night’s interviews with the selectmen, Curtin highlighted his experience in and love of Lynnfield.
“It is a great place and it has pulled me in,” said Curtin. “Here I am, thirty-plus years later, and whatever happens, I look forward to continuing my relationship with the town of Lynnfield.”
Dolan said he balanced 16 budgets in a row without the need for an override and talked about his management style.
“I’ve been able to maintain an incredible team over the past 16 years,” he said. “I encourage (employees) to be smart and brave, to try new things and be creative. I want them to feel valued.”