SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 16, 2013

Danvers selectmen give town manager high marks

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — Town Manager Wayne Marquis earned a “commendable” rating from selectmen last night, about the same rating he earned last year.

Marquis thanked selectmen for their recommendation and their frankness, which he said led to “a good healthy exchange.”

“It says we have a good, healthy relationship, which is not always the case in other communities,” Marquis said. He said the high marks reflect well not only on him, but his staff and senior managers.

“We are not perfect, but there is a concept in management called continuous improvement,” Marquis said.

Marquis, who has served as town manager for nearly 35 years, has a contract which runs through June 2017. He was scheduled to earn $187,700 in fiscal 2013. His rating of 4 out of 5 on 10 subject matters is about what he received during a performance review a little more than a year ago.

Last night, Marquis earned high marks in many areas, including perfect scores on his “financial management” and “interorganizational cooperation” and “commendable” and “outstanding” marks for his “general management,” “planning,” and “community outreach.”

Marquis, however, fielded a wide range of questions from board members on the things they rated him the lowest on.

Some selectmen were concerned about Marquis’ ability to recruit and retain key employees, and he earned a mark of “quality performance” from the board, or a 3 out 5. The mark came in light of the loss of the 15-year head of Danvers Electric to the multi-community Reading Electric Light Department, while at the same time commending him for having a set of key long-term employees in place. Marquis said the employee left to pursue a bigger job for more pay.

Other board members were concerned that Marquis was not doing enough to expand the town’s water supply. Marquis said the town has hit the wall when it comes to overcoming federal rules that prevent the construction of a new reservoir out of Emerson Brook in Middleton.

Instead, the town has focused on water conservation measures and charging fees to developers that help offset their water use and fund conservation through a program called the Water Use Mitigation Program, or WUMP.

Selectman Bill Clark said Danvers Square needs a makeover and the town needs to move toward zoning that allows for a mix of businesses on the ground floor and apartments above.

Marquis was again this year questioned about the need for a large overtime budget on a police department hamstrung by retirements and injuries. His answer was the civil service process and the need for a recruit to go through a 25-week police academy training means it can take more than a half a year to bring on a new police officer.

This year, the two relatively new members on the board, Selectwoman Diane Langlais and Selectman David Mills, left unanswered questions they felt they could not answer, selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask said.

“I think Wayne does a great job, I’ve said that many times,” Mills said.

“It’s fairly straightforward to be a selectman in this town when the problems are not so insurmountable,” Trask said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.