By MIKE DONOGHUE
and LISA SCAGLIOTTI
Shelburne Selectboard Chairman Jerry Storey has nominated Lee Krohn, a member of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission staff, to serve as the interim town manager.
The move came at a special meeting Tuesday night and appeared to surprise a majority of the members because the town had not solicited applications to fill the position yet.
The board is looking to name an interim manager while it conducts a search for a permanent replacement for outgoing Town Manager Joe Colangelo. He leaves at the end of this month for a new job as municipal manager in Hanover, Mass.
Storey’s motion was approved 4-1 with no opportunity for the public to weigh in until after the vote.
The selection came after Colangelo sent an email to the board urging them to name an interim manager by Tuesday night. Director of Administration Ann Janda also wrote to the board supporting Krohn.
Selectboard member Dr. Josh Dein voted against the motion saying it was inappropriate to vote without discussing options first.
Only Selectboard member Jaime Heins said he had spoken with Storey over the weekend about picking Krohn, who was not at the meeting.
Storey said any employment agreement would be presented next Tuesday and he suggested he and Heins negotiate it.
Selectboard member Dr. Colleen Parker agreed that the board should move quickly to name an interim manager ahead of Colangelo’s departure.
Dein asked who else Storey had considered. Storey said he had received calls from or on behalf of Shelburne police officer Bob Lake, Don Stevens who ran unsuccessfully for Selectboard, and Steve Palmer, a former Winooski city official.
Four recently retired Vermont municipal managers had been suggested by the public when Colangelo announced he was leaving, but it was unclear if they were considered.
After the board vote, Town Planner Dean Pierce asked if the public attending the meeting would have a chance to comment. He said he had worked with and probably knows Krohn the longest of anybody in the room. He suggested the board get diverse viewpoints and that he had talked with Colangelo about Krohn, but declined to discuss his comments in the public meeting
“Who is he?” asked local resident Dr. Steve Metz about Krohn.
Storey in making the motion, stated that Krohn has “unusually strong qualifications, which include extensive municipal service in Vermont as a planning director and interim manager among other responsibilities.”
A Shelburne volunteer firefighter, Kron works as a senior planner at the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission where got on staff in October 2013. He just wrapped up four months working for the town of Charlotte as interim zoning administrator.
Krohn, who lives in South Burlington, previously spent 24 years working for the town of Manchester, Vt. in a variety of roles including six months there as interim town manager; also as planning director, zoning administrator, tree warden, E911 coordinator, roundabout project manager and volunteer firefighter.
Reached Wednesday morning, Krohn said he would consider the Shelburne position. “I was honored to be asked regarding Shelburne, and grateful that CCRPC is supportive of the possibility, and willing to consider this,” Krohn said.
He explained that his area of expertise with the regional planning commission is land use and emergency management. “At times, upon request, we have helped towns by filling in for planner/zoning administrator positions while they are in between staff, as I had been doing for several months in Charlotte,” he explained. “This [Shelburne] position, if it all comes to pass, will be a more intensive form of municipal assistance than we have traditionally provided, being full-time and with a broader and deeper array of duties and responsibilities.”
Krohn has a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s degree in environmental management from the Duke University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
In addition, Krohn is a professional photographer whose images appear in the Shelburne News.
Small pool to choose from
Dein said he was aware of the emails sent by Colangelo and Janda.
While Colangelo did not name Krohn in his email, he defended Janda’s right to support choosing Krohn. Janda wrote she believed there wasn’t much of an applicant pool to pick from.
“Joe and I have spoken a few times about the best path forward, and we both agree that Lee Krohn is qualified, stable, and reliable – and is an excellent option as an interim manager for Shelburne,” Janda wrote. “His primary job would be to manage the Selectboard process and simply steer the boat for a while. I encourage you to consider this option.”
Janda, who lives in Hinesburg, said she served on a search committee for an administrator there and knows firsthand that the pool of potential candidates is small. She said she is not interested in taking on the responsibilities herself right now due to health issues.
Colangelo emphasized that it is important to have an interim manager in place quickly. He wrote to the board: “With much sympathy to the importance of process, etc. … and this is with all due respect, you have no idea what it takes to run the candy store on a daily basis. There has already been two weeks of uncertainty for staff created by the extended background check/negotiation process with Hanover.”
Colangelo said a delay in naming his temporary replacement would be “very unhealthy, unproductive, and will negatively impact the delivery of services we provide the public.”
He urged the board to consult with other town department heads and staff, “If you don’t trust my advice and judgment on this for some odd reason.” He urged the board to decide by April 3. “Inaction or a delay in action is simply not acceptable and would be a failure in your responsibilities to this organization,” Colangelo wrote.
Seeking a permanent manager
The Selectboard did agree to try to appoint a 13-member citizens search committee for a permanent manager. Each Selectboard member was asked to submit the names of at least two local residents by next Tuesday’s meeting. That would total 10 nominees; the remainder would be picked jointly by the board.
Parker suggested including a school board member. Dein suggested that town staff possibly name a member.
The board also discussed hiring an executive search firm to help with both the recruitment and selection process. The Selectboard would conduct interviews and hire their choice.