NASHUA — Following comments of praise and criticism from the public, aldermen this week appointed the mayor’s chief of staff to also serve in a newly formed role as the city’s administrative services director.
Kim Kleiner will oversee several departments, including the city’s assessing division that has been under fire recently following allegations of mismanagement and other deficiencies.
Kleiner has been serving as acting administrative services director for the past month, however the Board of Aldermen officially appointed her into the position for an indefinite term on Tuesday.
“Kim Kleiner is very well suited for the position because she knows city government intimately and has been working with all of these departments on a daily basis for several years,” said Mayor Jim Donchess.
By implementing the administrative services director role, Kleiner will be planning and directing the operations of a new division to include assessing, human resources, information technology, GIS, purchasing and risk management.
“She has a background in business and accounting … there is no one more dedicated to city service, to the city of Nashua and to doing a good job for the taxpayers and citizens of Nashua than Ms. Kleiner,” said Donchess.
Stephanie Wolf-Rosenblum spoke in support of Kleiner for the new role.
“She has experience in techniques of promoting thoughtful, and not reactive, change,” Rosenblum said of Kleiner, adding she can help bring clarity and improvements to the assessor’s office.
Others said Kleiner has an analytical mind, is responsive, a good team player and someone who goes out of her way to help others while collaborating throughout the process.
Some, however, including former alderman Fred Teeboom and city resident Laurie Ortolano, expressed concerns about having Kleiner fill the role.
“Ms. Kleiner has no experience, absolutely none, in the assessing department,” said Teeboom.
Ortolano, who recently hired a private investigator to provide surveillance on one of the city’s assessors, said the assessing department really needs a chief assessor.
“Assessing is a complex function, and Ms. Kleiner just doesn’t have that background,” said Ortolano. “ … The problems are deep.”
Donchess said there is no reason to hire someone from outside of city hall when the ideal internal candidate exists.
If the city waits to hire someone externally, it could take up to a year to complete the search process and educate them on the complex circumstances, according to the mayor.
And while Kleiner does not have a master’s degree in business administration, Donchess said she has a vast knowledge of city government.
The board approved her appointment to the position.
The mayor recently issued an internal audit that highlighted several problems within the assessing department such as ineffective management and a lack of internal policies, among other issues.