×

Two more Temple town employees submit resignations

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two more Temple town office employees have submitted their resignations this week, citing issues with the select board. 

Administrative Assistant Debra Harling and Office Assistant Betsy Perry submitted their resignations to the select board on Monday. They were accepted Tuesday by the board which formally thanked both women for their service to the town. 

“I do respect both those ladies, I think they go 110 percent every day, above and beyond,” said selectman Ken Caisse in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s a tragic loss to the town because of the situation we’re in.”

Last year, Perry was one of four employees to submit resignations to the town, along with former Town Clerk Wendy Drouin, Deputy Clerk Jeanne Whitcombe and former Treasurer Shannon Kelley. In their resignations, the four employees cited conflict with select board member Gail Cromwell. The four initially agreed to stay on to try to mediate the conflict, but after mediation failed, only Perry stayed on. 

Perry, in an interview following Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, said that she sees the issues now as an extension of last year’s conflict. The main issue that led to her resignation, she said, was the board’s attempts to change her job description and that of the administrative assistant in a way that Perry found untenable.

“We anticipated the updates to reflect the jobs that we were actually doing,” said Perry, who has been an employee of the town for 16 years. “Instead, it completely changed the job.”

Caisse declined to comment on the issue of the job descriptions, saying that the descriptions were “still in the works.”

Cromwell said that the job description, particularly of the office assistant had “drifted.” Particularly, she said, it had become inclusive of assisting the administrative assistant, which Cromwell said the board had not realized was happening. She expressed regret that the board had not had the opportunity to discuss changes in job description with Perry prior to her decision to resign. 

According to approved minutes of the June 21 meeting where the job descriptions were discussed, Cromwell suggested that Perry should be directly supervised by the select board, as she was hired to do special assignments, though this was countered by selectman Bill Ezell, who said that would only make sense when Perry was working on special projects. The board also discussed who should be responsible for the town report — currently handled by the administrative assistant — and the overlap of some duties such as maintaining the website. At the end of that meeting, the board requested that Perry and Harling reprioritize and revise the list of their duties for the board’s review. 

Perry said that the proposed changes to her job would have “fundamentally changed the way the office is functioning,” and said that she was “done” with what she percieved to be interference from the board and particularly from Cromwell.

Harling agreed that the job updates seemed intrusive. “We got the impression we were going to be micro-managed,” she said. “There were significant items being changed.”

Harling has been employed at the town for 22 years.

“There was a perception that there is a lack of respect from certain people for the years of experience that we have,” said Harling, of herself and Perry.

Perry said that she will likely enter a semi-retirement, though she said she may seek a part-time job. 

Harling works part-time as a Town Administrator in Sharon. She has yet to determine her next move, she said, but has been thinking for a long time of starting a bookkeeping business. 

Cromwell said the board will continue to look at the job descriptions for both positions, suggesting that now would be the best time, so that new hires can be tailored to the position. 

Cromwell added that tensions among the board have improved since March and the election of Bill Ezell. The board has come to an agreement to be co-chairs, rotating the responsibility meeting to meeting, and have agreed to a two-page set of procedures on how to manage meetings.

“As a select board, I think we’ve made enormous progress in discussing things rationally,” said Cromwell.

The board intends to meet on July 5 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss advertising the open positions.  

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.