Glenville may soon get a full-time supervisor, now that Director of Operations Jamie MacFarland has announced he will retire by the end of the year.
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the board will vote Wednesday on whether to make the supervisor position a full-time post and eliminate the director of operations position. Koetzle is currently paid a part-time salary of $19,152. As a full-time town supervisor, his annual salary would increase to $83,000 — the salary MacFarland currently earns.
“I have always believed this is a full-time job,” said Koetzle. “If Jamie wasn’t retiring, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But because he is, it makes sense to do it. Running a town is a full-time job.”
If the board approves the promotion, Koetzle would step down from his job at Baker Public Relations in Albany, where he works as a public relations executive. He took a leave from that post in early October to focus on his re-election campaign, he said, with the intention of returning once the election was over. But on Nov. 6, MacFarland announced his intention to retire.
“That would leave a huge hole in the management of the town,” said Koetzle. “He handles much of the day-to-day operations. The town of Glenville has a $16 million budget, close to 100 employees and 30,000 residents. There is no CEO that could manage a company like that part time. So I think with all of the development and growth happening in town, this full-time role is really necessary.”
MacFarland has worked for the town for 27 years, most recently as director of operations — an appointed position the board created in 2011 after eliminating the town administrator role a year earlier. As director of operations, he oversaw the parks and recreation department, senior citizens and youth services, and human resources.
“Really, much of my job had more to do with odds and ends, which are more frequent than you might imagine,” he said. “In the past, I’ve helped with recycling efforts and stormwater management. When there’s a problem in a neighborhood, like with oak wilt disease in 2008, I end up being the main contact for a lot of people.”
MacFarland’s brother died several years ago at the age of 61, which got him thinking about retirement a bit earlier than usual, he admitted. Now, at the age of 58, MacFarland said his consideration over whether to retire was cemented by the outcome of this year’s election.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with this board and I really wanted to see them re-elected,” he said. “The town is in very good hands going forward. This just seems like the logical time to make that decision and break from that role.”
The time is also opportune for Koetzle.
Supervisor since 2010, Koetzle said he has felt conflicted over the years about where to focus his energies. While his job in the private sector has been flexible and accommodating, he admitted that there were some things he just couldn’t do for the town while working 40 hours a week in Albany.
“From day one, it was always very difficult,” he said. “Between the calls and negotiations and other things you have to deal with as a town supervisor, it got in the way of my day job, no question about it. I managed those conflicts as best I could, but I’ve always felt in my heart that things would suffer at one or the other. It wasn’t fair to my employer. You can’t serve two masters, and now it’s time to focus all of my energies on the town of Glenville.”
The transition to full-time supervisor is a move other towns have taken over the years. Clifton Park, a town of more than 36,000, voted in 2011 to make its part-time supervisor position full time after its town administrator left. The two roles were combined and town Supervisor Phil Barrett stepped down from his day job at KeyBank to devote all of his efforts to the town.
In Albany County, the towns of Bethlehem and Guilderland have full-time supervisors and comparable populations.
“Historically, town supervisor has been a part-time position that you treat as full time,” said Koetzle. “You have to remember towns were these quiet places and bedroom communities. But that has changed over time and in many other towns our size, you have seen the supervisor transition to a full-time role.”
He emphasized that the transition would not affect the 2014 town budget. Koetzle would take MacFarland’s current salary, but keep the salary line for part-time supervisor in the budget so that the board can consider keeping MacFarland on in a part-time capacity to handle some responsibilities that the supervisor traditionally doesn’t handle, such as parks and senior services.
The board must approve the 2014 budget by Wednesday.