There are updates on the $35 million municipal building complex, plans for the new regional dispatch center, a budget to prepare, public works and state road projects, staff, department heads, officials and community members to meet, and yes, the storm that dropped almost 16 inches on the town his second day on the job.
“There’s a lot going on,” said Mansfield’s new town manager, Kevin Dumas, who started work Jan. 3.
But he says it with a smile.
“The days are long,” he said. “I really enjoy it. I love working with the staff here. I already feel like I've always been here.”
Dumas lost an election last November after 14 years as mayor of the city Attleboro. In December, he was chosen from three finalists after a six-month search to replace former town manager William Ross.
Dumas had high praise for Finance Director John Stanbrook who served as acting town manager since last March.
“John did a fantastic job keeping things running,” he said. “John did a wonderful job as town manager, as his own job and with negotiations.”
The town is in the process of negotiations with several unions.
Dumas describes his first month on the job as very busy. In addition to getting to know the staff and department heads, he’s been meeting people from the Airport Commission and Finance Committee to the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce.
“I feel like I’m at a ball game and I caught all the balls and I’m in the field and I have to play the game,” he said.
Dumas dreamed of having the top job in his hometown of Attleboro at a young age. One day in kindergarten, the class read a book and talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
“When I got home, I told my mother how we talked about what we wanted to be and said ‘I want to be mayor of the city,’” he recalled.
It was a goal that stayed with him as he ran for student council in middle and high school, graduated Attleboro High in 1994 and then St. Michael’s College in 1999 with a degree in political science and business.
In 2003, he was elected Attleboro’s youngest mayor at the age of 27.
There are differences between being a mayor and being a town manager, Dumas said. In Attleboro, Dumas said his boss wasn’t the city council but the voters. In Mansfield he reports to the Board of Selectmen.
“I’m ever mindful of the Board of Selectmen,” he said. “They need to be briefed. I need to keep them in the loop. I take copious notes so I can give them helpful updates.
“The board is fantastic to work with,” he added of his new bosses.
Dumas said his past experience working with state and regional agencies such as the Department of Transportation will be helpful with projects in Mansfield like improvements to the Route 106 corridor and Route 140/School Street intersection. He’s worked with some of the same neighboring communities and state legislators in the past as well.
Aware of recent discussion about spurring economic development in town, Dumas plans to meet with the Industrial Development Commission, the industrial park tenants and large and small businesses in town. He’s met with Jeff Mann of the Xfinity Center and was off to visit the Holiday Inn later that day.
“The IDC is a really talented group, ready to go,” he said.
Long- and short-term goals for Dumas and the town will be on the agenda at the Feb. 28 selectmen’s meeting but he shared a few things he’s working on.
Dumas said he wants to focus on getting the town a new web site. He’d like the new site to be modern, user friendly, updated in a timely fashion and to have a feature where citizens can sign up for newsletters to alert them about water main breaks, rubbish collection schedule changes and other news.
“It would be really nice to have,” he said
He plans to get a proposal to the capital improvements committee “really soon.”
Dumas said he’d like to see the town consider adopting a regular Town Meeting in the fall. Mansfield currently has a annual Town Meeting each spring and special sessions when needed. Town Meeting is the town’s legislative body. He said such a change would require a bylaw amendment.
“Once a year is not sufficient,” he said.
With a city council, it was easier in Attleboro to move money when needed. Dumas said a regularly scheduled second Town Meeting would allow more options for responding to unexpected costs such a workman’s compensation case, a broken water main or a collapsed culvert.
It would also allow more opportunities to pass zoning changes that may be needed for a proposed development.
Having a regular fall meeting may also reduce the length of the spring one making it more attractive for voters to participant in.
“Why limit to once a year?” he asked. “It’s not the most effect way to run a government.”
Dumas said wants to be accessible to residents. He has a visit planned with local seniors at the Council on Aging and will attend the Mansfield Music & Arts Society's gala Feb. 9.
“I want to make sure people know we value everyone who lives here who pay their real estate taxes for services we provide,” he said.
Dumas will do the first of regular shows on Mansfield Cable Access starting Feb. 22 and said a few people have stopped by his new office to say hello.
“If you see me around town, say 'hi' and introduce yourself,” he said.