MONTAGUE — Members of the Deputy City Manager Hiring Committee recommended current city planner Walter Ramsey as the first choice to be Montague’s Deputy City Manager at this week’s selection committee meeting.
Since City Assembly voters approved the position in May, the hiring committee has met four times to refine the job description, work on advertising and conduct other related business. The group then narrowed a pool of eight applicants down to three who met the minimum criteria. Two finalists – Ramsey and current Sandisfield Town Manager Kevin Flynn – were ultimately selected before Ramsey became the preferred candidate.
The Selection Committee, while satisfied with the recommendation, elected to take an additional week to review application materials and interview footage before confirming the decision.
Greg Garrison, who also sits on the finance committee and as chair of the capital improvements committee, is part of a seven-person panel that also includes city administrator Steve Ellis, public works department superintendent Tom Bergeron , Drinking Water Facility Superintendent Chelsey Little, Executive Assistant Wendy Bogusz, Building Inspector Bill Ketchen and owner of the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts Kimberly Williams, who also serves on the Montague Economic Development and Industrial Corporation.
“I will say the committee had a very final judgment on the final two nominees,” said Garrison, who represented the deputy city manager’s hiring committee at this week’s selection committee meeting. “Overall, the committee felt that Walter Ramsey was the more qualified of the two candidates.”
Although Flynn had served in municipal governments in central Massachusetts for more than 25 years, Ramsey became the committee’s favorite because of his “very strong knowledge of the community, obviously his knowledge of the position (and) his knowledge the needs of the city. of Montague,” Garrison summed up. Additionally, Ramsey scored higher in all 12 ranked categories based on responses to interview questions. The questions prompted each contestant to articulate their abilities related to areas such as community engagement, working with city staff, technological understanding, and environmental awareness.
As a city planner for 12 years, Ramsey has acquired an “aptitude for interdepartmental collaboration” and has “had the opportunity to lead collaboration with virtually every municipal department” in Montague, Ramsey wrote in his cover letter.
“I learned a lot of skills in administration, project management in particular, but also in municipal budgeting and personnel management,” Ramsey said in his interview.
As a result of his work, Ramsey received the Massachusetts American Planning Association’s 2013 Outstanding Planning Project Award for the Turners Falls Downtown Liveability Plan he led. Along with various degrees and certificates earned at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, including a master’s degree in regional planning, Ramsey has completed a series of planning-related trainings over the past decade. He is currently a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and plans to complete the Massachusetts Municipal Association/Suffolk University Graduate Certificate in Public Administration program in May 2023.
“The showcase of work he brought with his portfolio was very similar to what was brought by the other interviewee, but Walter did it in a quarter of the time he did in his portfolio,” Garrison said during a capital improvement committee meeting on Wednesday.
Specifically, the duties of a Deputy City Administrator previously described by Ellis would include community and economic development, capital and infrastructure planning, facilities planning and management, coordination of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), construction procurement, grant and contract management, trade marketing. and outreach, and committee support. Ellis also suggested that the assistant could act as an office assistant in a limited capacity.
Despite his accomplishments as a city planner, Ramsey said a transition to an administrative role is the appropriate next step for his career.
“I was able to meet this need of the city through the city planning department, but the city has grown to such an extent that we’re building capacity,” Ramsey told the hiring committee. “I feel like I grew up with the city to be able to fill that capacity in the role of ATA and make room for the role of an actual planner to address land use issues, which is really what the planner is supposed to be doing.”
Garrison highlighted Ramsey’s potential adaptability as a key benefit of selecting Ramsey for the job, arguing that he would have a “very quick transition point”, as opposed to an “unknown transition point” that a candidate less familiar with Montague might have.
“I’ve shown that I can grow to meet the needs of the community time and time again through many examples of the work I’ve done that I’m happy to talk about,” Ramsey said, describing himself as a “place very person-based…with a lot more to give” Montague.
Ramsey expects him to quit his job as an urban planner if he is hired as the city’s deputy municipal administrator. Although no hiring or start date was confirmed by the selection committee, Ellis said during the capital improvement committee meeting that the hiring committee hoped “to have someone on board by October 3”.
At the May Annual Municipal Meeting, the position was budgeted at $86,924 for fiscal year 2023 as part of an operating budget increase of $118,781 that also accounts for the addition of a part-time administrative assistant.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]