Amherst town manager earns high, low marks from Town Council


Staff Writer
Friday, December 09, 2022

AMHERST – After receiving a performance review giving him high marks on financial matters, for promoting community health and safety, and for having a good relationship with the Town Council, Town Manager Paul Bockelman and councilors agreed to a revised contract, with a minor adjustment, on Monday.

With a $193,221 contract already extending to Aug. 31, 2025, which calls for a 2% annual pay increase, the only change to the deal, reached during a 22-minute executive session, is to the $3,000 reimbursement Bockelman receives for a disability insurance policy. The new language, he said, allows this reimbursement to be for a life insurance policy, instead of disability insurance, at his discretion.

The revised contract, with Bockelman in the seventh year at the helm of Amherst’s town government, will still have to be voted at a future council meeting.

In open session, the Town Council unanimously approved the final draft of the town manager’s evaluation.

“We have tried to note and appreciate the parts of your work where you have excelled and to identify areas where our expectations of performance will require more of your attention,” Council President Lynn Griesemer wrote. “The goal, as always, is continual improvement in your management of our town.”

The overall marks were commendable or satisfactory in policy goals, including climate action, community health and safety, economic vitality, four major capital projects, housing affordability, and racial equity and management. Those goals address administration, finance, long-term vision, community engagement and his relationship with the councilors.

One area where Bockelman received lower grades was in relationships with the University of Massachusetts, along with Amherst and Hampshire colleges, with nearly three-quarters of councilors giving him “needs improvement” or unsatisfactory marks.

The council is in the midst of  determining the goals they will set for next year. Residents who offered comments at the meeting suggested that climate action, affordable housing and racial equity need to be among the priorities.