Kelly To Retire As Orleans Town Administrator

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Orleans news , Select Board , town administrator

John Kelly plans to retire from his longtime post as Orleans Town Administrator in March. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS – A transition could soon get underway toward the hiring of Orleans' next town manager.

The select board announced on the town's website last week that John Kelly will retire from his longtime post as town administrator in March. Kelly has served in the position since 1996.

"Although it is premature to say goodbye since Mr. Kelly is not retiring until next March; the select board is grateful for John's guidance with the transition to a town manager position," the announcement reads. "Congratulations, John, for serving the town so long and so well."

An article will go before voters at next month's special town meeting requesting $25,000 to fund the search for and hiring of a new town manager (the position's title will change as a result of a charter change that was approved at annual town meeting in May), according to the announcement.

Kelly is in the final year of his current contract with the town. When it was renewed in 2020, he indicated to the select board that it would be his final contract.

In the announcement, the select board recognized Kelly's achievements as town administrator, among them his work to secure a AAA bond rating for the town, his role in overseeing the former tri-town sewage treatment facility, his work in preparing the town for the first two phases of its ongoing sewer work and his management during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Over his 26-year tenure, Mr. Kelly has seen Orleans through environmental, technical and market changes no one could ever have predicted," the board said in the announcement. "Inspiring the loyalty, integrity, and length of service in his staff that he modeled himself, we, the residents of Orleans, can only express our deepest appreciation for his stewardship."

If the article is approved, a search committee would be formed that will help define the roles and responsibilities of the town manager position. Input from "staff and stakeholders" will also be sought as part of the transition process. Outside consultants also could be hired as needed as part of the process, according to the announcement.

It remains to be seen how the transition will unfold, but Select Board Chair Andrea Reed said Monday that it's possible an interim town manager could be appointed until someone is named to the position permanently.

"Or we could do a combination of a consultant's interim [town manager] with staff," she said. "We don't know the answer to that yet."

The process also will require what Reed calls "radical listening" to town staff, including Kelly, about what the town needs in a new town manager.

"John's not leaving right away, so he's going to be working very intensely with his staff," she said. "They're staked. They've got skin in the game in terms of the success of their work."

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