May 30, 2020

Search begins for new Ellsworth city manager

ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth City Council sat down Wednesday with David Barrett, assistant director of personnel services for the Maine Municipal Association, to begin the process of finding a new city manager.

The council voted earlier this month to use the MMA’s services to help find a replacement for City Manager Herbert Gilsdorf, who will leave at the end of this month to take the post of city manager in Ypsilanti, Mich., outside of Detroit.

Barrett told the councilors that he would place advertisements in several state newspapers as well as professional publications, and would handle the responses to those ads.

When the response period ends on Oct. 18, he said, he will review the resumes that have been submitted and divide the candidates into three groups. The first group, he said, would be the top candidates, “those who most closely match the description and have the best skills, based on what you tell me here tonight.”

The second group would include candidates who possess some of the skills and abilities the council desires, he said, and the last group would comprise candidates who don’t match what the council is looking for.

“All of you will have access to all the resumes,” he said. “I just try to minimize the field so you can spend your time on the candidates that look most promising.”

Barrett said that once the council had reviewed the candidates’ resumes, it could select five or six for an interview. He will arrange the interviews, he said, and prepare a notebook for the councilors that would include background material for the interviews. His role in the interviews, he said, could be whatever the council desires: very active — participating in the questioning — or acting simply as an observer.

When the council has narrowed the field to one or two candidates, Barrett said he would then conduct a background check on those candidates. That would include a legal and credit check as well as an education verification.

Barrett said he had been working with a number of municipalities in the area recently and that the response to ads has been good.

“The size of the resource pool is encouraging,” he said. “I’d be encouraged if I were you at the number of candidates you can expect.”

In response to questions, Barrett said he would not make a recommendation of the top two or three candidates. He said his division of the candidates into three groups, with probably 12 or 15 candidates in the top group, would allow the councilors to focus their energies on the candidates that appear to be the strongest.

“I think it’s important for you to see enough resumes and candidates so you feel confident that you’ve seen the field, and know that the candidate you choose is really the best and fits what you want,” he said.

Barrett said the advertisements would begin appearing later this month and that the closing date for submission of resumes would be Oct. 18. The council will meet on Oct. 24 to begin the review process.

Barrett told the councilors that they probably would not make a choice of a new city manager until sometime in November. The new city manager probably would not be on the job until sometime in December, he said.

Using the MMA for the city manager search will cost the city $2,500. That fee, according to council Chairman George Spreng, does not include the advertising costs or and candidate expenses. Advertising costs have been estimated at about $1,000. The last city manager search cost the city a total of $5,200.

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