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With a new contract into 2025, Adams, Mass. Town Administrator Jay Green looks forward

Josh Landes
Adams, Mass. Town Administrator Jay Green speaks in July 2021 at the site of the Greylock Glen project.

In February, the Adams, Massachusetts select board unanimously approved a contract extension for town administrator Jay Green. First hired in 2019, the 43-year-old has previously worked for Amtrak, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, and as the city of North Adams’ Chief Administrative Officer from 2008 to 2011. The new contract will keep him in Adams through at least 2025 – with a first-year salary of $100,000. Green spoke with WAMC about the successes and challenges he’s experienced so far – and his priorities for the community of around 8,000.

ADAMS: It was an easy conversation to have. I think we've had a good three years. There been some things that nobody predicted, such as a health pandemic, but we've worked well together and it was an easy conversation. You know, I could see early on that Adams really needed the opportunity for some stability in leadership. And I'm happy to offer that and I was pleased that the chairman of our board, John Duval, started the conversation last month about renegotiating a contract.

WAMC: When it comes to looking at the next three years from the vantage point of the challenges ahead – there's obviously the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic – what do you see as the major things Adams will have to be led through for the foreseeable future?

We’ve got a lot of projects that that surfaced during the COVID-19 Health pandemic, for one reason or another. Greylock Glen is probably the most obvious one. We're doing a $5 million refurbishment of our wastewater treatment plant, and we have a lot of other smaller projects that are going on. So I would say in the next three years is, it's that project execution, trying to capture any federal or state dollars that we’re eligible to receive from any of the legislation passed in those respective bodies, and simply maintaining and creating an environment for small businesses here in Adams to thrive.

Looking back over the last three years, what would you say you've done the best, that you feel like, well, this is something that I know that I've done well, that helped to build this goodwill with the town leadership?

Oh, that's a tough one, Josh. I'm always a hard critic of myself, and probably off the top of my head, I would say absolutely nothing, I have a hell of a lot more work to do. But I would say, I was faced with – and I knew this coming into the job – that there would be some significant retirements. Our town accountant, our community development director, our police chief. I would say over the last three years, myself and the board of selectmen have worked hard together in order to hire really good people that want to be here in Adams and work hard and improve our community. So that's the, if you had to pin me down, I would say that’s the one thing I think I've done well at, is be able to bring onboard new people with a lot of energy and a lot of positivity.

Now, I'm also interested in the flip side of that coin. What have the struggles been? What have been the areas where you felt like you can move forward knowing that, you know, maybe the first time around, it didn't go quite as anticipated?

Yeah, some of it's just been figuring out, you know, where are we fiscally. I've had a really good fiscal management team here. The board of selectmen is very, very clear in their goals. And I just kind of wished that that we'd be able to break out of our cycle of just having to level fund our budget. I really wish that I could find a way to bring in more revenue into the town of Adams without being on the back of the taxpayers and maybe that's not necessarily a function of the town administrator itself, as much as in the environment. But I think that, working in the next three years, if we could get some other revenue sources into the town to give the taxpayers a break and allow us to expand our operations a little bit, that would be a significant achievement for me.

We're speaking now in a time of a lot of economic uncertainty, with conflict in Europe, and the chance of gas prices continuing to rise as well as inflation. When you look at some of those economic storm clouds, what's your forecast for Adams? And how can the town best insulate itself from even more turmoil after the last couple years?

Well, Adams is set up very well to ride out those storms, because most of our operating budget is based on a non-elastic funding source. That is our real estate tax. And we have really good taxpayers here in Adams, where we have over 98% payment from our taxpayers. So unlike other communities that may budget more on the receipt side, or even some of the cannabis funding, we don't have that here in Adams. Just, for one reason or another. So we can weather out the storm. I'm pretty conservative in terms of how we spend money here in Adams, and we spend it wisely. So I think we're well situated to ride out the storm. We thought 2020, in the midst of that health pandemic, when the bottom fell out, was just going to wreck us in it. And it didn’t. We survived that storm, and I think having that experience in 2020 gives us the ability to batten down the hatches and we'll be ready.

Heading into the second three year contract, where do you see Adams’ place in the larger Berkshire community?

I think Adams is slowly starting to become appreciated by the rest of the county as a place to do business, as a place to live. And it’s really kind of the last frontier of Berkshire County. I would say South County's been very lucky, they've developed well down there. North Adams has had some really good projects that have happened. Pittsfield has always been the center of development based on its population and its infrastructure. And Adams has just not been in a position to be able to capture any of that development or investment, and I think our time is finally coming. And I hope that in the next three years, we're able to launch some more private projects, some housing projects, maybe some other small businesses, and become as much as we can a quintessential New England town that supports small businesses and is a great, great value for our residents to live.

Lastly, Jay, any message to the broader Adams community with this momentous contract signing?

I really appreciate the support. The support of our select board, our five person select board, the support of our staff here, my department heads, our town staff. Everybody has just been really supportive and it has helped me guide the town. And our residents. The feedback that they give me, just the opportunity to say, hey, you're doing a great job, Jay, keep it up, let me know how I can help. I really appreciate all of that support. We're all in this together, and I'm grateful for their support and their encouragement to keep going

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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