FRAMINGHAM – Citing a lack of performance in the City of Framingham Planning & Community Development Department, the Framingham City Council voted 8-3 to eliminate the salary for the department’s director Kevin Shea.
Hired by Mayor Yvonne Spicer, based on a recommendation by Jay Ash, Shea started in Framingham in December 2019. He came from the community of Taunton.
If the Mayor does not veto the budget vote, and it holds, the department would be run by the deputy director Erika Jerram, who has been with the Town/City for more than a dozen years.
The vote to cut the salary was supported by City Councilors George King, Janet Leombruno, Christine Long, Adam Steiner, Michael Cannon, Robert Case, Phil Ottaviani, and John Stefanini. Voters against the cut were District 2 Councilor Cesar Stewart-Morales, District 7 Councilor Margareth Shepard, and District 9 Councilor Tracey Bryant.
Shea’s salary is $118,454. The salary would be eliminated as of the start of Fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1.
The assistant director’s salary is just under roughly $99,500. That salary was not cut.
Finance subcommittee chair Steiner said the department was “underperforming.”
Framingham Chief Financial Officer Thatcher Kezer III disagreed with “underperforming.”
Kezer said Shea has “rebuilt an entire team” and is “performing well.”
Chair of the Council’s economic development subcommittee Cannon said Shea has not been building relationships with businesses and that includes the Framingham Business Association.
Kezer said Shea has been building relationships, but did not name one specific business.
Mayor Spicer told the Councilors the decision was “short-sighted.”
City Council Chair King said the Spicer administration had yet to re-submit a re-organization plan for the department.
The City Council had rejected two previous plans, the last in June 2020. He said the lack of a plan was “frustrating.”
Councilor Bryant said some Councilors have been “bias against the director from the start.”
She said it was “bad policy to eliminate this specific position.” She said Framingham is a big city and needs the director position.
Mayor Spicer said Shea has attracted new businesses to Framingham during the pandemic despite a “shoestring” budget and staff.
But also during his tenure, many businesses have closed, IDC/IDG announced it was leaving the City, and now more than 30% of office space in the City is vacant.
Councilor Long said Shea’s department has a “disconnect with the public.”
She said the department has been “sliding downward.”
“No one calls you back in that department,” said Councilor Long.
Councilor Stewart-Morales said the vote will have an impact on “employee morale.”
He mentioned the high turnover rate in the Spicer administration.