Millis Gets New Town Administrator Michael Guzinski Will Begin His Term in March

By J.D. O’Gara
Michael J. Guzinski will be leaving his position as the Town Administrator of Douglas to  become Millis’ second Town Administrator in March.
Issue Date: 
February, 2017
Article Body: 

In a unanimous vote on January 9, 2017, by the Millis Board of Selectman, including James Neville, James McCaffrey and Catherine MacInnes, Michael J. Guzinski was chosen to be the second Millis Town Administrator. Guzinski, a resident of Blackstone, has spent the past 13 years as Town Administrator for Douglas, Mass.
“I hadn’t really been looking for a new position,” says Guzinski, who noted both in his interview with Millis Selectmen and to Local Town Pages that colleagues had recommended he consider applying for Millis’ open position. His research, he says, yielded a lot of positive feedback about Millis and its people. “I think it will be an excellent place to work, and a new challenge for me. I’m looking forward to it,” says Guzinski, who had attended a workshop in mid-January at the new Millis Police Station to familiarize himself with the budgeting process. He will begin in his new position sometime in March.
When Charles Aspinwall, who spent 25 years as Millis Town Administrator before leaving to take an Administrator role in Canton this past July, the town selectmen worked with UMass Boston’s Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management in coming up with a desired profile for a town administrator. The profile identified challenges the next town administrator would face, including:
• Maintaining and strengthening the full confidence of town leaders and residents
• Fostering incremental steps
toward modernization
• Economic Development
and Planning
• Maintaining good
• Managing town
administrative functions
• Handling infrastructure, capital and regulatory compliance
• Maintaining a positive labor relations and management climate
• Sustaining a high level of
public services and budget plan on a constrained budget
• Manage a small town context
• Develop and sustain
institutional Capacity Staff
Development and Morale
• Facilitate and support opportunities for regionalization.
The Collins Center further came up with a profile of personal and professional attributes the ideal candidate would have to meet these challenges. The search, which began in August 2016, had yielded a number of applicants, which the Collins Center screened down to 17 resumes by Millis’ November 2016 town meeting. The Board of Selectmen then appointed a 7-member Town Administrator Screening Committee to review those candidates and decide upon finalists for the position. The three final candidates, Michael Guzinski, Christopher Sandini, and Christopher Clark, were publicly interviewed by the Board of Selectmen on January 4, 2017. During the interview, Guzinski and other candidates were grilled on their experience with economic development, master plans, implementation of plans, outreach, grant experience and accessibility.
At the January 9th meeting, Board of Selectmen Chair James Neville commended the very detailed review conducted by the Collins Center and the 7-person committee. “Our decision hasn’t come lightly, and it’s also something that hasn’t been done in 25 years. “I very much appreciate what the Collins Center and the Board of Selectmen did and very much appreciate the town screening committee and the very tight timeline they adhered to to move the applicants forward – and I very much appreciate the three candidates,” said Neville. He noted that some of the factors influencing his decision were the candidates’ ability to look for business opportunities as well as manage internal finances, personnel and IT structure of the town.
Selectman MacInnes noted that important factors she considered in her decision were the candidates’ ability to manage the water and sewer of the town and write grants, as well as attract businesses and find new ways to (such as solar farms) that might bring in revenue to the town. MacInnes said she interviewed the town’s finance director in making her decision, to better determine the Administrator’s role in town finance.
“The genius of the system is that everything is done in an open meeting,” said Selectman James McCaffrey, who said he considered comments and considerations by members of the town and tried to determine who of the three would be the best fit, as well as capability, for the town. Guzinski, he implied, had demonstrated success in a similar environment.
The next steps in Guzinski’s taking the town position will be contract negotiation a physical and completion of a CORI.