In what is expected to be his next-to-last job evaluation before retirement, Town Manager William Keegan was given solid marks for his handling of town operations and finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selectmen, each of whom contributed to a joint evaluation summary, endorsed that outcome May 25 after briefly discussing what had been a lengthy review process.
“It certainly was a difficult year,” board Chairwoman Leah Gibson said while thanking Keegan for his leadership. “I think we’ve got the foundation here for everything we need. We just got to polish a few of the stones and get things in order.”
Although not discussed in last week’s public meeting, Keegan’s employment contract with the town calls for a 2.5 percent raise effective July 1, contingent upon completing a “successful” performance evaluation, which would bring his annual salary to $213,631.
Walking board members through an executive summary of Keegan’s evaluation, Sarah Ackerman, the town’s human resource specialist, said the document consisted of submissions from board members reflecting four primary goals -- town finances, communications and engagement, business and economic development and operational matters.
Each of these categories had a 1-5 rating scale, with Keegan earning a 3.99 composite score.
Referring directly to the evaluation summary, Ackerman outlined a number of Keegan’s accomplishments over the past year that included:
- Making progress on the town’s Housing Production Plan;
- Creating a municipal culture aimed at helping local businesses thrive;
- Assembling a “highly competent” management team to oversee and direct town affairs;
- Establishing clear channels for communication between the town administration, finance department and advisory committee.
Each selectman participated in the annual review by completing an evaluation of the town manager which featured both numerical scores and commentary on a range of criteria. Individual reviews were then turned over to Ackerman, who created both an aggregate numerical score and a text narrative summarizing individual comments.
This year, Ackerman worked directly with former Chairman Mark Elfman to generate the summary document which she said incorporated those comments considered “most relevant” to the manager’s performance. Keegan’s cumulative rating was 3.99 on a scale of 5.
In addition to the numerical rankings on different criteria, that narrative includes selected quotes from the individual evaluations, but does not attribute them to specific selectmen.
“Glad we were able to get through a difficult time,” read one of the quotes. “Still disappointed in adding a fourth ambulance and filling vacant positions that could have held off.”
Another stated: “Bill has a good relationship with townspeople and businesses, including the Kraft Group and Schneider Electric. The outdoor dining policies were a top priority.”
“We are lucky to have him leading us, as many towns around us are not in such a great position,” yet another concluded.
According to Gibson, the executive summary is considered public information while a more comprehensive and detailed version, which includes individual reviews prepared by selectmen, is considered a private personnel document shielded from public review.
Keegan thanked board members for their candid and honest appraisal, even when critical of his performance.
“As I’ve said to all of you, this is probably one of the most uncomfortable meetings for me throughout the course of the year,” he said. “This is the 38th time I’ve done this and now that we’ve got it right, I’ve only got one left.”
While suggesting Foxboro’s municipal government has made “great strides” in recent years, Keegan conceded there is always room for improvement.
“And the day I stop thinking that way is the day I really should hang it up,” he said. “Anybody in this position really doesn’t know it all – that’s just the way it is.”