The Board of Selectmen assembled last week – just five days before the town election – for a public evaluation of Town Manager Scott Crabtree. The selectmen, who met for about a half hour with Crabtree, all gave rave reviews on how the town has prospered in fiscal affairs under the town manager’s leadership.
“Our town is in great financial condition,” Selectman Debra Panetta said during last week’s session, which was held in the first floor conference room at Town Hall.
“I like the way Scott works with the Finance Committee and Town Meeting,” she said. “Overall, our town manager has done a great job,” Panetta said.
“I don’t think anybody can dispute the financial shape the town is in,” Selectman Michael J. Serino said. He noted the $10 million stabilization fund, $4 million in free cash, the AA-plus bond rating and the grant money that the town has been receiving because of Crabtree’s management.
Selectman Corinne Riley hailed completion of the school building projects, and the administrative consent order and the overall fiscal management as major achievements by Crabtree and his staff.
At the same time, selectmen made it clear that the town manager does have his shortcomings. They mentioned that he could do a better job in the area of communications. For instance, Panetta said she would prefer to learn about town issues before she gets to read about them in the paper. Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini and other selectmen said there’s definitely room to improve communications to town residents.
But the town manager has demonstrated himself to be responsive while taking prompt action on issues that have been brought to his attention. And at a time when many communities are challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, Saugus has been flourishing in its fiscal affairs, according to Cicolini. In fact, Crabtree has excelled in initiating measures which have enabled the community to meet some of the COVID-19 challenges. He’s gone out and gotten help and other resources to protect the community from COVID-19, he said.
Based on the town’s overall sound financial condition, Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony W. Cogliano Sr. said Crabtree deserves a contract extension and has the town moving in the right direction. Cogliano would like to have monthly sessions with Crabtree to work on improving communications with the public.