Chatham Town Manager Goldsmith Gets Gold Star

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

Jill Goldsmith.  FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM Town Manager Jill Goldsmith’s job performance is good and getting better. That’s the word from the board of selectmen, which issued her annual evaluation this week.

Board members rated Goldsmith on a four-point scale in each of six broad categories, giving her a composite score of 3.89, up from last year’s score of 3.64. The ranking “indicates strong collective praise from the selectmen for her ongoing high performance and excellent managerial skills,” the board wrote in a summary of the evaluation.

“It is noteworthy that Ms. Goldsmith received ‘perfect’ 4.0 scores in 23 of the 38 sub-categories, and received highly respectable composite scores of 3.60 to 3.80 in an additional 14 sub-categories,” they added. “In only one sub-category was there a lower composite score of 3.40, still in the range of Strong Performance.”

The evaluation summary made public Monday includes select comments provided by board members, but does not attribute those comments to individual selectmen.

In the first performance category, “Personal/Professional,” selectmen noted that Goldsmith “continues to approach her job responsibilities in a most ethical and professional manner, and to interact respectfully and competently with town officials, staff and the public. She remains a credit to the town.” Other board members praised Goldsmith for her accessibility and her integrity.

In the area of board support and relations, selectmen judged Goldsmith to be very capable and professional.

“Jill is always available and takes time to work directly with board members,” one wrote. “She will explain and recommend options for board decisions. Always implements board decisions.”

“I would like to see the town manager be more vocal at board meetings on items discussed,” another selectman wrote. “An inclusionary conversation/debate helps us to better understand board actions in relation to town/staff/department impacts.”

The third category, financial management, earned Goldsmith particular praise.

“This remains among the strongest areas of the town manager’s considerable accomplishment,” one board member wrote. “The town manager continues to work effectively with the board, finance committee, the school authorities and the finance director to protect and enhance the town’s financial strength.”

Other board members praised Goldsmith’s detailed budget information and the transparency of the budget process.

“The town manager should be applauded (along with finance director) for our continued fiscal condition and bond rating; in the coming year there may be a challenge to the need for additional staffing,” another selectman wrote. “I have confidence that the town manager will address this in a thoughtful and strategic manner.”

In the area of personnel management and organizational leadership, board members praised Goldsmith’s hiring decisions and the way she manages and retains staff.

“Praises in public and provides constructive improvement in private,” one selectman wrote.

“Concerns for the transition/succession planning of some of our long-time staff. Room for improvement with the communication of the various boards/committees, staff and town manager,” another wrote. “Need to continue to maintain/improve staff morale between the two different generations of employees working for the town.”

Goldsmith was also praised for her community leadership and public relations, with board members praising her public visibility and leadership. Selectmen praised her for her work locally and at the state level, and with the town’s chamber of commerce.

The final category, town operations and infrastructure, included praise for the detailed monthly reports that Goldsmith provides to the board. A board member praised her for fostering a “team approach” with staff to implement programs and services that meet board goals and stays within budget guidelines. Selectmen also praised her use of technology.

“Need to focus on continued improvements in service delivery,” one board member wrote. “Would like to see deeper scrutiny of costs of projects before board presentation(s).”

Goldsmith thanked the board for its evaluation and for its support.

“It’s indeed a pleasure to work together with a board that cares so much about our town today, its future, and balances it to honor the past,” she said. Goldsmith said she is proud of her achievements, but acknowledged her department heads and other town employees “who strive for the same highest level of achievement in their own way and every day.”

Nicastro also praised Executive Secretary Shanna Nealy for her work supporting Goldsmith, saying she is “really a mainstay for the board of selectmen. Has been for a number of years.”

Goldsmith was hired in 2011. While her evaluations have been generally strong, she received a lukewarm review from a divided board of selectmen in 2016. That year, three selectmen gave an average score of 3.79, and two others scored her at 1.27, yielding a composite of 2.83. In 2017, Goldsmith earned just over $175,000.