Shared Senior Director to Leave; Selectmen Consider Increasing COA Funding
Shared Senior Director Susan Carp will be leaving Hamilton and Wenham to take a new job in Arlington.
It is the last official week on the job for the first ever shared senior director for Hamilton and Hamilton.
Last week, Susan Carp of Wenham accepted the position of executive director of the Council on Aging in Arlington. Carp’s last week in Hamilton and Wenham is this week, Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo said. There had been “some discussion” about extending her work through next week, he said.
In January 2011, Carp was hired as the shared director of the Council on Aging in both Hamilton and Wenham. She also was the coordinator for the Hamilton-Wenham senior van service.
Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine announced Carp’s hire in Arlington last week. No further information was available about her start date or pay. She was introduced at the Arlington Board of Selectmen on Monday.
"Ms. Carp brings an outstanding combination of financial skills, education and experience in managing Councils on Aging and a genuine passion for working with seniors," Christine Connolly, Arlington’s director of health and human services, said in a press release issued last week. "We are confident she will lead our exceptional team at the Arlington Council on Aging in meeting the challenges of providing excellent service to our seniors in the 21st century."
John Jope retired from the Arlington post in January and it was being filled by Lourie August on an interim basis.
Carp previously worked in banking before switching careers about seven years ago. She has a Master’s in Gerontology from University of Massachusetts at Boston and previously worked at the Beverly Council on Aging before taking over as the interim director of the Wenham Council on Aging after Trudy Reid was elected Town Clerk in May 2010. She served as interim director in Wenham until she was hired for the shared position. Carp was selected from a field of seven applicants.
Carp pushed for the creation of the shared position, telling Selectmen in both towns that it could provide for greater funding and grant opportunities.
While Carp has split her time between the two towns, the Council on Agings have remained, in tact, in both towns.
Carp was the first Hamilton town employee devoted to senior citizens – senior services had previously fallen under the Hamilton-Wenham Recreation Department.
There was not universal support for the new position when it was created in late 2010. A 22-signature petition was submitted to Selectmen from residents that were concerned about how the position would be split between the two towns.
This week, the Hamilton Board of Selectmen discussed the next steps for the town’s senior programs following Carp's departure.
“I do not think how we have it presently structured is a recipe for success,” Lombardo told the Board of Selectmen about the shared position that combined two part-time positions to make it full-time for one person. “It is too much without enough support staff.”
Selectman Jeff Hubbard said he was disappointed that the Hamilton Council on Aging’s budget was holding at $11,000 for fiscal 2013 “and we’re not increasing it a dime.” The COA budget also receives funding from grants and from its revolving fund.
Marc Johnson, a Hamilton selectman, said the board had been waiting for a plan for how the Council on Aging would use additional funding. No plan ever came in, he said. Plus, the recreation master plan, which is being assembled now, will “specifically focus on the senior issues.”
Selectman Jeff Stinson said Carp’s replacement plus Lombardo and interim Wenham Town Administrator Mark Andrews should work to come up with a funding plan for the COA and bring it to the Special Town Meeting in the fall.
“(The COA budget) is the number in the budget we all agreed we want to increase,” said board chairman Jennifer Scuteri. She suggested when a plan is developed that a funding request could go before Town Meeting to transfer money from “free cash” – essentially the fund balances from the previous year – to the COA budget.
Hubbard said he would rather transfer $10,000 budgeted for new office furniture at Hamilton Town Hall and have it go to the COA budget.
Stinson said he “110 percent” supports the COA but said it would be “irresponsible” to fund the COA without a specific plan for how the money would be spent.
“We really made a commitment to grow that program over there,” Hubbard said.