MWDN: Southborough looking forward to expanded role with Mark Purple

Last week selectmen unanimously voted to offer the job of Southborough town administrator to Ashland Interim Town Manager Mark Purple. Throughout the recruiting process, selectmen talked about an expanded role for the next town administrator. Brad from the Metrowest Daily News chatted with Selectman John Rooney about what that expanded role might entail.

“I’m excited to get Mark started,” selectmen Chairman John Rooney said Friday. “I have a lot of ideas for him.”

Selectmen added a host of new responsibilities into the job description before advertising the position, part of its quest to ultimately create a much stronger town administrator.

Perhaps the most important expanded responsibility will be Purple’s role in budgeting, Rooney said. Whereas selectmen typically discuss the minutiae of budgets with departments heads — conversations that often last long but accomplish little — Purple will be charged with, at the direction of selectmen, creating and presenting budgets for all town departments.

Rooney also told the MWDN he’s excited to tap into Purple’s experience managing Ashland’s trash disposal system. Ashland pay-as-you-throw.

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Donna McDaniel
11 years ago

One correction, I hope, is in order, namely that the selectmen can decide the new administrator is in charge of departments under their jurisdiction but not ALL town departments. Selectmen’s major depts. are fire, police, dpw, and many others, but obviously not schools and budgets of other elected boards. As a former selectman, I do think it’s important that the selectmen be familiar with those budgets for it should be them, not an administrator, who can defend those budgets at Town Meeting and help the voters understand the choices. Yes, an administrator can do a lot of the legwork and initial discussions but in the end, the selectmen must be able to justify the requests.

Al Hamilton
11 years ago

Having department heads report to the Town Administrator rather than to the BOS is a big change and once I support. I think the current BOS is trying to get out of the micro management role it has found itself in and they are to be congratulated for that.

This is a big change for our community and we would be naive if we did not expect a few bumps along the way but we should stay the course and support the Selectmen’s decision to delegate responsibility.

In June the BOS appointed the Town Manager Legislation Ad Hoc committee to study and propose legislation required to support a strong Town Administrator/Manager and to continue the done by the Town Manager Legislation committee and Town Govt Study Committee.

The Committee had tentatively decided to pursue a “Strong Town Administrator” path and a 5 member BOS. The discussions are now focused on the roles and responsibilities in the budget process. The next meeting is this Thurs 8/30 at 7:00 at Town Hall. The Committees web site is:

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