, Salem, MA

Local News

January 15, 2013

Topsfield losing an 'absolute gem'

Town administrator to retire this year

TOPSFIELD — When she was hired after a long career in the seaside town of Winthrop, Topsfield’s first town administrator viewed her role as a transitional one in a town that was undergoing a sea change in municipal government.

After six years on the job, Virginia “Ginna” Wilder is retiring. While she’s in transition, she is not gone from her office in Town Hall just yet. She will work part time as selectmen go about seeking her replacement.

“I think Topsfield is a great place to work,” Wilder said. “I’ve been pleased and amazed at the support of the staff, the selectmen and the residents in helping me out.” She hoped she had accomplished the task of transitioning Topsfield’s form of government from one led in the past by a three-member Board of Selectmen with an executive secretary to one led by five selectmen and a town administrator.

The town has advertised for “qualified consultants” to assist it in recruiting applicants. Consultants have until Feb. 6 to apply, with requests for proposals available from the Board of Selectmen at Town Hall, 8 W. Common St., Topsfield, MA 01983.

Wilder’s contract with the town expired Dec. 31. She’s working three days a week on an interim basis, according to Donna Rich, the selectmen’s secretary.

“Ginna is an absolute gem,” Selectman Martha Morrison said. “We were so lucky she was our first town administrator.”

Wilder was hired in the fall of 2006 at age 58 and went to work on Jan. 2, 2007.

In her first full fiscal year on the job, she earned $92,666, according to budget documents from the Finance Committee on the town’s website. Her salary is about $100,000, Selectman Dick Gandt and Wilder said.

In the present fiscal year, the town administrator position is budgeted at $109,011, an 8 percent increase above the year before. Gandt said that the increase is because the town knew it was going to get a new administrator, and it had to budget money for the transition. Gandt said Wilder informed the board a year ago that she planned to retire at the end of her second-year contract and agreed this past summer to a six-month interim post.

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