OXFORD HILLS — For the second time in roughly a year, three towns in the Oxford Hills are in search of a new town manager.
This time around it’s Norway, Buckfield and Oxford. Last year, Paris, West Paris and Oxford were on the hunt for a top administrator.
Town Manager David Holt announced at the selectmen’s April 6 meeting that he would be retiring after 28 years on the job effective Friday, June 30.
He was hired in 1989, succeeding Larry Todd, and was only the second town manager to serve in the position in the past 43 years.
Holt said that he had hoped to stay until he was 65, but health issues forced him to retire earlier than expected.
Following Holt’s announcement, the selectmen began advertising for candidates to replace Holt.
The job descriptions asks for “qualified” applicants for the position of Town Manager.
According to the town office, 17 people applied for the position.
Holt said that the selectmen decided to hold interviews with four of the candidates on Tuesday, May 30 and Wednesday, May 31.
The interviews were held in executive session.
In March, Town Manager Cindy Dunn announced she would resign as town manager and its associated duties effective Friday, June 30, when her contract expires. In 2014, Dunn served as town clerk and said she would serve as town manager simultaneously to save money. As of Saturday, July 1, Dunn will remain on as town clerk and its associated duties.
At its Thursday, May 25 meeting, the selectboard unanimously voted to hire an interim town manager, who will also serve as a consultant.
The interim town manager will serve a six-month period, beginning July 1, and be paid $1,500 a week. The job duties include analyzing the current town structure, giving recommendations on such and helping with the town manager hiring process. The money for the interim and permanent town manager will be included in the fiscal 2018 budget that will go before voters at the Saturday, June 17 town meeting.
Selectmen do not want to allow the interim town manager to apply for the permanent town manager position.
Selectboard Chairman Warren Wright and Selectman Maida DeMers-Dobson have gone back and forth about whether or not the interim town manager and consultant positions should be separate. Residents at several selectmen’s meetings said they wanted an independent consultant from outside of Buckfield, DeMers-Dobson wanted to keep the positions separate. Outgoing Selectman Mike Iveson has been on a leave of absence, but did not want to hire a consultant.
“I don’t want to spend $15,000 on a perceived problem that may not be a problem,” he said Thursday about the fee for the consultant, noting the town’s taxes are already high.
But after the Maine Municipal Association told Dunn selectmen could not use the $10,000 emergency contingency money to hire the consultant DeMers-Dobson and Wright interviewed, DeMers-Dobson agreed to have the consultant and interim town manager be a combined position, which should save the town money.
Selectmen will now advertise for the position and conduct interviews before they move forward. They hope to have a permanent town manager in place by the first of the year.
Oxford has gone through a number of town manager changes since January 2016 when longtime manager Michael Chammings left to become Auburn’s community and economic development director.
Oxford Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Smith, who passed away in March, had been acting as interim town manager during that vacancy and did not apply for the town manager’s job.
The board held several public meetings to gather information from town officials and residents about what they would like to see in their next town manager. Topping their list of “wants” was a good communicator and someone who would be a resident of the town.
In June of 2016, Derik Goodine was hired as town manager but he resigned on Nov. 17.
Finance Clerk Becky Lippincott was immediately appointed interim town manager Nov. 17 following a brief executive session.
On December 1, 2016 the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a contract with Lippincott. The three-month agreement was from Nov. 21, or until such time as a permanent town manager was hired or both parties approved extending the agreement.
On May 18 the board announced it would advertise for a permanent town manager.
According to the latest advertisement for the permanent town manager, Oxford is seeking an individual with budgeting experience, grant administration and economic development experience, financial management skills, and good communication and public relations skills.
The board of Selectmen would prefer a candidate with a degree and experience in public administration; however, individuals with equivalent experience and education are encouraged to apply. Salary is negotiable based on experience and qualifications.
The advertisement varies from the one put out last year in the board is no longer requiring five years, or any, full-time management experience.
Salary is negotiable.
Applications for the new town manager are due by Thursday, June 15.