Powers Gets A One-year Contract Extension

by William F. Galvin
Town Administrator Joseph Powers gets a new contract. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO Town Administrator Joseph Powers gets a new contract. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH – By a 3-1 vote, the select board Monday approved a one-year contract extension for Town Administrator Joseph Powers.

Board member Donald Howell cast the dissenting vote, expressing frustration over the loss of numerous staff under Powers’ leadership.

“I’ve made no secret as to the state of the town and particularly staff morale,” he said. “I think it’s time for a change and I will not be voting for this extension.”

Over the past year Howell has expressed his dissatisfaction with the number of department heads and employees who have resigned abruptly, taken positions in other communities, retired, or been let go for other reasons.

“It seems like the doors at town hall have an exit sign on them,” Howell said.

The select board has spent the last several weeks in executive sessions conducting strategy sessions and negotiations with Powers, whose contract is scheduled to expire on June 30. Under the agreement, the board was required to let Powers know this month whether he would be receiving a new contract.

The new contract is a one-year extension and provides a $20,000 salary increase.

On a motion put forward by board member Michael MacAskill, the board amended the contract to give Powers a 2 percent cost of live adjustment (COLA) that members agreed he was entitled to over a five-month period last year but did not receive.

“It’s a mistake of the board,” MacAskill said. “Every other person in town got a COLA and he did not. I don’t think it’s fair in any way.“

When asked for a copy of the contract by The Chronicle at the end of Monday night’s meeting, Select Board Chair Julie Kavanagh said the contract would be sent to town counsel to include the additional language voted by the board, and once it is returned and signed by the town administrator and the board she would release it. Kavanagh said that should happen within the week.

Powers has applied for positions in other towns. He was a finalist for the town manager position in Foxborough, but the job was given to the town’s interim town manager Paige Duncan. He was also a finalist for the town administrator’s position in Yarmouth three years ago.

Powers’ service to the community has been a continuing topic of discussion on social media.

“It amazes me that you would offer another contract to someone who was clearly looking for a job elsewhere.” Cynthia Daniels Kosloski wrote on the Harwich Old Timers facebook page. “Not to mention someone who is not well beloved by the people to begin with,” responded Sandra Bayless Hall, the administrator of the Facebook page.