Photo: Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin
It’s not usual in an annual job review that the person is told to take a vacation. But that was Elizabeth Dionne’s recommendation to Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin during the Select Board’s annual performance assessment on Monday, Sept. 25.
“Take more vacation time!” wrote Dionne in her evaluation of Garvin, who is nearing six years as the town’s chief administrative officer. “I am very concerned about burnout [as Belmont has] been in crisis mode for a long time and Patrice has provided a steady hand at the tiller.”
Being scolded for not taking more off was as harsh a criticism the town administrator received as Garvin’s Select Board bosses gave her high marks for the work she performed over the past fiscal year.
“I have the highest regard for Patrice,” said Board Chair Roy Epstein. “Not everyone in Belmont realizes the demands put upon the town administrator, and how difficult it is to be successful in this role.”
The board was in sync ranking Garvin with nearly identical evaluations of her performance for the past year. Garvin received the top mark of five on a scale ranging from 0 to 5 in five of eight categories – personal character characteristics, professionalism, Select Board support and relations, organizational leadership and personal management, and financial management. Her lowest ranking was in public relations with an average of 4. Her overall score was 4.79/5.
The board’s written evaluations were equally united in their plaudits for Garvin’s execution of her job.
“She is extraordinarily devoted and tireless in her efforts to make the town run well for the residents and employees. I observe this every day and believe she is one of the foremost practitioners in her field,” said Epstein.
“She continues to provide highly effective and dedicated support to members of the Select Board,” said Mark Paolillo. “She has built a strong financial team and has strong financial skills that resulted in a balanced fiscal year 2024 budget that addressed many of the service gaps and needs within our town. areas of improvement.”
“[Garvin] is not afraid of change,” said the Board Vice Chair Dionne. “She is not threatened by strong people around her, and she is tough and resilient. You can learn a lot about someone from the people she hires. Patrice obviously has solid and well-deserved calm self-confidence. As a result, she has surrounded herself by smart and capable people, creating a truly impressive leadership team.”
Dionne said she personally feels Patrice, as “a strong female leader,” receives “criticism from employees, unions, and certain members of the public that might not be leveled against a male in the same role. The Select Board must be more active in providing her with visible support and political cover.”
Garvin thanked the board for their continued support for her leadership in running the town’s daily operations. “The fact that you scored me similarly tells me that I’m doing the same thing for each of you, which is I couldn’t be more proud of that I serve you as the board,” told the board Garvin at Monday’s meeting. Garvin praised the team she has built in her six years.
“I can’t tell you the work that we’ve been able to do in a short time. It’s been amazing,” she said. “I continue to look at ways to improve the town, departments, and the staff. I really enjoy working in Belmont, and I hope to continue.”
The review was followed by the board approving a three percent merit increase, with Garvin’s annual salary increased to $212,384 effective at the start of the 2024 fiscal year on July 1. Epstein said Garvin’s salary is slightly lower than the average of comparative towns and cities in the region.
Garvin’s contract expires in January 2027.