Photo: Christopher Roy.
Christopher Roy, the assistant director of the electrical utility in neighboring Concord, was selected Monday afternoon by the town’s Light Board.
Roy “is a rising star in the field. He’s got a vision, a drive and the ability to take Belmont Light to the next level,” said Light Board Chair Adam Dash as the board voted unanimously for Roy who was interviewed by the board, April 9, along with the other finalist, acting Belmont Light General Manager Craig Spinale.
According to Rick White from Groux-White Consulting who facilitated the candidate search, Roy will be hired once a successful negotiation of a contract is finalized, The contract will be from three to five years with a salary ranging from $140,000 to $180,000.
Tall and confident, Roy carries himself like the athlete he was a 6’4″, 240-pound tight end playing for Tufts back in 2004. In fact, Roy said he values the discipline and respect that a sports background provides him.
The assistant director in Concord for the past five years, Roy said he comes to Belmont knowing the way municipal utilities are structured today may not fit that same way in the future.
“The role of the general manager is to oversee your operation and make sure the utility is growing. In the short term, it’s personnel” with career paths and succession plans while long term, it’s rate adjustments and implementing the greenhouse gas reduction programs” in 2050. “But you have to establish a foundation today.”
Rates in Belmont, Roy said, are poised to provide revenue for progressive initiatives … “everything is there, the potential is there. It just has to be unlocked.”
The board struggled with the decision saying the decision was “a close call; it would be a tough choice” noting how Spinale took over the general manager’s position in September after “a very difficult and tumultuous time,” said Dash, while also taking up the task of decommissioning the town’s three retired substations.
I don’t know what more [Spinale] could do and he has done a really, really great job,” said Dash.
If there was one area that impressed the board was Roy’s ability to break down an issue and produce a solution. The members each pointed to Roy’s answer of one of the interview questions which required each candidate to make a seven-minute presentation on Belmont’s electric rates which are higher than surrounding communities and how to maintain or lower them as residents demand energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases.
Member Mark Paolillo – a self-professed “numbers guy” – was “fascinated” how Roy dug deep into the Belmont data with an “in-depth analytical analysis of the rates” that showed many areas where Belmont could make great savings. Dash said Roy looked through the numbers and “saw the issue and called it out … and that shows some level of sophistication and then took the numbers and ran with it.”
Roy also stated while under state general law he has the ability to set policy apart from the board, he would always first look to town government and residents priorities in a collaborative manner rather than strike out on his own.
“He’s someone who is focused on building a team, the importance of cultivating that team … and a keen idea of making it succeed,” said new board member Tom Caputo.
“Chris seems really passionate by public power and where he wants to go,” said Paolillo.