Kelly-Lenz was hired as the joint town-school chief financial officer in Wilton in November 2015. She is due to become New Canaan’s new CFO. Although she had intended to broach the subject with the Board of Selectmen during the next budget cycle, the imminent departure of Anne Kelly-Lenz prompted her to move up the discussion. Board of Finance member Chris Stroup said he endorsed creating the position of a new chief town administrator to assist Wilton’s first selectperson.
“They expect the first selectperson to be responsive and accessible by multiple means of communication,” she explained, “and the Board of Selectmen wants the first selectman to be responsible in that manner.” She also noted a certain degree of responsiveness that has been demanded of her from residents who have come to expect near-constant contact in the age of electronic communication.
Vanderslice added that a town administrator could provide some semblance of consistency when administrations change following elections. Citing state and federal requirements of local municipality leaders who sit on the Western Connecticut Council of Governments and the Southwestern Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, “The position of the first selectperson has become more demanding and more complex,” Vanderslice said.
Vanderslice estimated the role would cost between $185,000 to $205,000 annually. She said the cost could be offset by both a reduction in the compensation of the first selectperson and “efficiencies and cost-saving expected to be identified and executed” by the new hire. The Board of Selectmen will decide at its Jan. 18 meeting on whether to move forward with the change, she said. The challenge, however, is figuring out how to pay for the new position, Kaelin said.
“This has really become too big a job for just one person to do,” he said. “We need to get a professional administrator and we need to free the first selectperson up to do the things that your constituents really expect you to do.” Like Vanderslice, Chairman Michael Kaelin noted that fewer people are voluntarily serving in government, which demands that more professionals be paid to do the work.
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