6 months on job, Stockbridge town administrator gets high marks

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STOCKBRIDGE — If Town Administrator Danielle Fillio's report card from the Select Board included grades, it would be straight A's.

During a recent evaluation of her job performance, she won commendations from members reviewing her first six months in the appointed position.

"The purpose of these evaluations is to get better, to get us all on the same page and not to beat somebody up," said board Chairman Donald Chabon. "They're never easy; most people try to avoid them or whitewash them."

"We are not an easy lot," Chabon conceded, addressing the audience at the board meeting. "We disagree, we argue, we pull in different directions, in case you hadn't noticed."

He praised Fillio's skill at "managing bosses ... she's as good as anybody can be. I can't think of anything she should do differently. She sits in the middle of it, tries to work out differences and stands up for her beliefs. She's not a pushover; she knows when to back off and does not hold grudges."

As Chabon put it, "She tries not to be political. Administrators should administer, and I've asked that she try not to get involved in political things, and she agrees to that."

He noted that Fillio has been "a major contributor to the goals I have, the things I want to accomplish. I think it's great, and I look forward to many years."

Selectman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo said: "I knew she could do the job when we appointed her. I was 100 percent behind her; she had some things to learn, but I felt she was the right person for the job and I stand behind that decision, 100 percent."

He commended her work in streamlining preparation of the town budget, and keeping up with details and deadlines on bids and contracts.

"It does take a while," said Cardillo, who also is the town's fire chief. "I've been in the situation of being promoted from a worker to a boss, and there is resentment from the workers in the beginning, and she worked it out very well and has very good working relationships with everybody in this building, very kind, very helpful."

Cardillo emphasized that "She's doing an excellent job. Always room for improvement, taking classes; that's everybody's job. I'm very pleased with her first six months and know she's going to do great as long as she's here, hopefully, until she retires."

Selectman Terry Flynn, reading from a brief statement, said he agreed with the positive comments made by his colleagues but planned to discuss his evaluation with Fillio separately "because I do not believe it makes sense to evaluate anybody at a public meeting unless an employee requests it or unless there's a show-cause hearing that requires it."

The Select Board named Fillio as interim administrator in October 2016 and appointed her as administrator in June, under a three-year contract with an annual salary of $75,000. The contract provides for a review, evaluation and discussion with the administrator at the six-month mark (and then annually) by the full board, thus requiring it to be held in an open public meeting.

Flynn described Fillio's performance as "very conscientious, energetic and creative, and she has shown a genuine concern for doing the right thing. My decision for a one-on-one discussion with Danielle does not imply anything negative, and I wouldn't want anyone to take it that way."

Chabon pointed out that when she was appointed, "we had come out of a very difficult time for the town. For me personally, it was something of a leap of faith."

Fillio had served for nearly a decade as administrative assistant to Jorja-Ann Marsden, who retired in July 2016 from her post as town administrator for 20 years, preceded by 10 years in related Town Hall positions.

Chabon praised Fillio's wide-ranging familiarity with town policies and procedures; "Her depth and breadth of knowledge was greater and better than I had anticipated."

He also cited her "helpfulness and availability," noting that "in this day and age, it's not easy being a municipal employee. No matter what you do, several people will oppose it. I found her responsive, and when confronted, she seems to show a cordial tolerance. In sum, she's on top of most everything."

He explained that her orientation was toward leniency in dealing with three disciplinary situations at the Town Offices and described her leadership as "boss of the crew" as "a good start; she's very competent, and in time, she'll solidify her authority and have an easier time supervising."

In her self-evaluation, Fillio stated that "I'm really excited to be in this position, I do enjoy it. There's always something new every day; it's never the same thing, which I like."

She said she hoped to take a financial management class "because municipal management is so diverse that no matter how hard I sit there and try to learn, there's a lot more to do."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.

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