April 08, 2020

Washington County delays manager hiring

MACHIAS – One year after the position was originally proposed and placed in the budget, the search for a county manager in Washington County continues.

The Washington County commissioners made offers to two top candidates over the past few months, but both candidates turned down the $60,000 position.

And some of the other choices of applicants that the county’s hiring committee would consider had already landed work elsewhere.

That leaves the commissioners thinking they might have to reconsider the current pool of resumes or re-advertise the position.

“This position is so important, so vital, that we can’t rush this decision,” Commissioner Chris Gardner said Thursday.

“The county manager will not only do the position, they will define the position,” Gardner said.

The hiring committee that interviewed top applicants included the three commissioners – Gardner of Edmunds, John Crowley of Addison and Kevin Shorey of Calais – and three from the eastern part of the county, Baileyville Councilman Tim Call, Calais City Manager Linda Pagels and state Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry.

The commissioners had hoped to have a county manager on board by late summer before work commenced on building the 2007 budget. But that process will still go forward as usual, starting next week.

The commissioners held a workshop among themselves last week to review the current $5.5 million budget.

The next step is to call together the 10 members of the county’s budget advisory committee, likely for a Wednesday or Thursday meeting.

Raye is the county’s legislative delegate to the committee. District 1 representatives are Call, Pagels and Roger Holst of Alexander.

District 2 representatives are John Leighton of Pembroke, Alice Cates of Eastport and John Spinney of Perry. District 3 representatives are Frank Joy of Steuben, Margery Brown of Cherryfield and Barbara Drisko of Columbia Falls.

Budget committee members are by statute either selectmen or council members in their municipalities, or otherwise appointed by their town’s selectmen or councilors.

Two of the representatives in Gardner’s District 2 – Spinney of Perry and Cates of Eastport – have finished their municipal terms.

Yet they remain on the budget committee because they were elected through a caucus procedure to terms through 2006 for Spinney and 2007 for Cates, Gardner said.

“I’m not sure they have to be replaced,” Gardner said Thursday in advance of the commissioners’ regular monthly meeting. “Once elected, they stay through their terms, even if they are no longer selectmen.”

Crowley noted that crafting a 2007 county budget will be a difficult task this year, particularly in light of the impact of LD 1.

“This will be the roughest budget year in my eight years as a commissioner,” Crowley said.

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