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Carrabassett Valley reviews process for hiring new town manager

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Monday night, the selectboard met with Don Gerrish of Eaton Peabody, who has been hired to help conduct the search for a new town manager for the small resort community.

Gerrish outlined his plan and timeline for the search. In early March, he would solicit feedback from town employees and community members on what they would look for in a new town manager, and what issues they see within the town. Gerrish would use this information to draft a document outlining common themes for the selectboard to take into consideration while conducting interviews.

Finding a qualified town manager has become harder within the last five or ten years. “It’s more difficult to get qualified people to apply,” Gerrish said. He noted that outgoing town manager Dave Cota’s twenty-four years indicates that there is stability in the community, which can help with securing a qualified candidate.

Following this, Gerrish would draft an ad for the position, which would be approved by the selectboard before being posted. Gerrish would receive submitted resumes, sort through them all, do a very basic background check on each, and make recommendations on candidates for the board to interview. Board members would each receive a binder with all the resumes and make the final decision on which candidates to invite for a first round interview.

Gerrish would take care of scheduling interviews, which may take place via Zoom or in-person, depending on the candidate’s location. These interviews would likely take place in early May over the span of one or two days. Because these interviews involve protected information, they would take place in an executive session, not a public board meeting.

Typically after the first round of interviews the board narrows down the list of candidates to just a few or maybe even one candidate they would like to call back for a second interview. The second round of interviews would be expected in late May, with a finalist to be determined and then offered a contract at the end of May. Gerrish will also assist with negotiating a contract if necessary.

The board hopes to make a decision by the end of May as Cota is retiring at the end of June.

The Carrabassett Valley selectboard determined that they will conduct the interviews and make the final decisions on hiring a new manager. Other communities, such as Farmington, have opted to form a hiring committee with department heads and community representatives, but this hiring committee only makes recommendations; the final decision still rests with the selectboard members. In neighboring Kingfield, which adopted a town manager form of government last year, the selectboard hired the town manager without forming a separate hiring committee.

Gerrish noted that this method can be cleaner and easier to navigate. The board can still take community feedback into consideration.

The board also approved the warrant for the 2024 Annual Town Meeting. Last week, the budget committee met and approved the budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which will be voted on during the town meeting, along with four revised ordinances. These ordinances include revisions to the marijuana ordinance to bring it into compliance with state laws; a revision to the zoning ordinance to allow smaller off-street parking spaces; an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow contract zoning; and revisions to the shoreland zoning ordinance that align with state statutes.

The annual town meeting will be in two parts, with the election of municipal officials and nomination of a town meeting moderator on Tuesday, March 5, along with the Presidential Primaries. The remainder of the meeting will take place on March 13.

As a final note, Monday night was the second-to-last selectboard meeting for Selectman John Beaupre, who has served the town for 24 years and has decided not to run for another term.

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