Harwich Town Administrator Receives Raise Despite Mixed Reviews

HARWICH – Despite a wide disparity between evaluation scores by the Harwich Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Christopher Clark received high enough marks to earn a raise.

Clark received an average score of 66 out of 104 possible points which was just enough to reach the 65 needed to receive a cost-of-living salary bump.

The wide range for scores from the five Selectmen led to a heated debate during Monday’s meeting.

Selectman Michael MacAskill gave a score of 42 points and Selectman Don Howell awarded only 29.

MacAskill said his 42 point score was generous.

“I gave four points for future goals that are the same as last year’s goals with no timeline and no substance to them whatsoever,” MacAskill said.

MacAskill and Howell were also critical of Clark’s inability to keep this year’s budget within a 2.5 percent increase. The budget brought to town meeting was more than 7 percent higher than last year. Both were also critical in the delays to the town’s wastewater plan.

Howell also said Clark does not get board members information quickly enough to make important decisions.

Selectmen Chair Julie Kavanagh, who awarded Clark 86 points, does not believe the low scores match the town’s progress.

“At the end of the day, if the town administrator is truly doing a 29 on an evaluation at of 100 then I don’t think the town would be barely functioning,” Kavanagh said.

She said the town would not be improving its bond rating and projects would be falling apart if Clark’s performance was that weak.

MacAskill responded to Kavanagh saying the town is “barely” running.

Howell said the town performance should be attributed more to other town staff.

“We wouldn’t be falling apart,” Howell said. “We have some excellent department heads. You just heard about the police chief, the fire chief, the finance director, the COA director. We have really fine people.”

Kavanagh said the town depends on its department leaders and that they do a great job.

“They also work closely with the town administrator and they have been in front of you on multiple occasions telling you that Chris was a great help to them,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said the current evaluation tool is flawed if the town administrator can get such varying scores and that the process should not be politicized.

“I don’t know how you are going to move forward with this, but you are going to have to figure out a way that the evaluation works better for everybody, including Chris,” she said.

Kavanagh said it is the boards job to develop a tool that is a way to evaluate someone that doesn’t become political.

Clark has served the town since 2013. His latest contract in 2017 included a salary of more than $162,000 with a 2 percent COI raise last year and this year.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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