As budget season looms, Marblehead turns to McGinn again

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John McGinn, the town’s former administrator, just can’t seem to quit Marblehead – or maybe Marblehead can’t quit McGinn?

Either way, the retired administrator will return as a consultant and help the town crunch and report numbers as the budget season gets underway. The Peabody resident possesses a history of stepping up when Marblehead finds itself in a tight spot- particularly around budget and Town Meeting seasons. 

McGinn became town administrator after his predecessor, Jeff Chelgren, resigned in 2014. At the time, he was nearly a decade into a finance director tenure; he never saw himself in Abbot Hall’s corner office until the Select Board members approached him.

Even when he retired some four years later, he agreed to stay a few weeks more, so he could help his successor, Jason Silva, transition.  Now, when Silva resigned 1o months ago with very little explanation, the Select Board was caught by surprise. Both Chelgren and Silva, for whatever their reasons, resigned as the town entered – or nearly entered –  budget season. 

Naturally, the Select Board called on McGinn, who agreed to come out of retirement in January and served as interim town administrator until the Select Board found Silva’s permanent replacement, Thatcher Kezer, the former mayor of Amesbury. McGinn led Marblehead through the Town Meeting season, and Kezer subsequently took over. 

For several weeks, a protracted search for a permanent finance director has proven quite difficult.

“We’re still searching for a finance director. We had a pool that we interviewed. We had a lot of good candidates,” Kezer told the Select Board. “We, unfortunately, lost a couple of very strong candidates that are withdrawn for various reasons.” 

The search faces  “a tough marketplace for municipalities” with regard to finding department administrators. 

“We are going to keep the search open and look for the exact right person that we want here in Marblehead,” Kezer said “So the effort continues.” 

And so the town finds itself without a finance director as Marblehead enters budget season. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Select Board opened the 2023 town warrant, an indicator that the slow march to Town Meeting has begun. The next Town Meeting will be a consequential one, as the warrant is expected to feature a permanent Proposition 2 1/2 override. 

The town is once again turning to McGinn. 

“He has agreed to work on a part-time basis to ensure critical finance reports are accomplished to provide additional assistance as needed through the budget development process,” Kezer told the Select Board. “Additionally, he knows where all the information is maintained, providing efficiency in completing tasks.” 

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