It was lucky for Peter Morin and David Kale that Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell discovered before the formal interviews began for the new Town Administrator on Tuesday, May 29, that someone set the thermostat in the Selectmen's Room in Town Hall at 84 degrees.
Not that the two finalist for the position needed one more reason to be sweating before the Belmont Board of Selectmen.
But the board members decided to leave out any gotcha questions for Morin and Kale – a third candidate, Millis Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall, dropped out before the interviews.
In fact, the Selectmen allowed Morin, chief of staff/director of operations in Braintree, and Kale, Cambridge's budget director, the time to present their best to the town.
The Belmont Selectmen will decide on a new Town Administrator at its Monday, June 4 meeting.
• David Kale
Cambridge's budget director/deputy finance director since 2003.
Also Arlington Public Schools chief financial director for two years.
BA economics (1982) and MBA (1988) from Suffolk University
What he does: Cambridge's number guy, manages and develops the city's $472 million operating budget and $56 million capital budget. Writes the budget notebook that provides the city's 34 departments with budget guidelines based on the city's five-year financial and capital plan and bonding schedule.
What else: Past president of North Division-Cambridge Little Baseball and youth baseball and soccer coach, named city's Outstanding Employee in 2000.
Some things he said:
Despite being in a city with healthy revenue from its commercial base, Kale said "we manage the city as if there was a 2 1/2 percent limit on revenue. We manage the city as if we didn't have a surplus."
He works in a municipality where the town and school sides work closely together to produce a long-term five-year financial plan. He said this approach has been very successful because the city has a balanced approach to the budgets and it "makes process much easier."
If hired, Kale would start by performing a financial "CSI"-type review of the fiscal '13 budget on how it was created. He would then try get a sense of the gap in projected revenues and expenses. Kale points to recent years where revenues have increased annually by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent while the town's budget has rose by at least 3.5 percent yearly. With that information in hand, Kale said he will have information that will allow him to fix the long-range deficit.
Kale said he would sit down and work with the Warrant Committee so the town would be reading off of one fiscal "playbook" ending "two different types of assumptions" on the budget.
A team "can fight like cats and dogs but once the door opens," a budget team must be working for the same goals.
Kale said if elected he would take some time to listen to recommendations from department heads and other leaders. He would also be methodical and patient. He will also be open to expanding public input in the budget process by including more forums.
"Being heavy-handed does not work," he said
• Peter Morin
Braintree's chief of staff, director of operations since 2008.
Also director of performance measures for the Department of Correction and general counsel for the board of medical registration.
BA in Poli Sci from The George Washington University in DC (1981) and JD at Western New England College of Law (1984)
What he does: He's the go-to guy for the mayor. Morin oversees all aspects of the daily operation of the town government. He also drafts the annual budget and capital plan.
What else: He works for this best friend – who is Braintree's mayor – who he played High School football with; he was a selectman; quite involved with youth basketball and Little League.
Some things he said:
Two phrases said by municipal workers that drives Morin nuts: "We've always done it this way" and "It's not my job."
"Just watch me get angry," he said.
"(Management expert Peter) Drucker says culture eats strategy for breakfast," said Morin, meaning that officials need to fix the culture first before implementing a strategy.
Helped take Braintree from a debt-burdened community with a falling credit rating in 2008 to a municipality that achieved a level-service budget and a higher credit grade with across the board cuts including consolidation of services and job cuts on the general government side; the schools were left untouched.
He agrees that spending money on the huge retiree health program unfunded premiums – the OPEB stabilization account that Belmont approved at this past Town Meeting – is a wise thing to do.
The steepest learning curve Morin will face will be learning about the town and its employees and have them trust him.
“The challenge for me is (meeting) people, have them trust me, trust my leadership and establish the relations I had (in) Braintree,” Morin said.
He said Belmont is a very engaged community with a great many people who understand the issues.
"I will have to meet the mark everyday," he said.
Despite working in his hometown and for his best friend, "there comes a time to strike out on ones own."
“It’s important to coming up with the budget but how it's implemented is key."
He is a Jack-of-all-Trades in Braintree; he does procurement, strategic planning, labor negotiation. "You name it," he said, including supplying a member of the public with the latest federal unemployment statistics at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday.