MACHIAS – It would be a first for the county, a manager, that is.
The Washington County commission is looking to hire a manager – someone who would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the county.
Last week Chairman Kevin Shorey and Commissioner Chris Gardner sifted through more than a dozen resumes. Commissioner John Crowley had already looked at the applications.
Since its incorporation in 1789, the county has been run by a citizens board most recently composed of three commissioners. But the complexity of county government has made the part-time job a real challenge.
The county’s population is small – 33,941 people – when compared with other counties in the state, but large in area with more than 1 million acres. It stretches from Steuben at the southern end to Danforth at its northerly tip.
The new manager would be responsible for any and all things related to the county.
The commissioners originally advertised earlier this year but were unsuccessful in attracting a viable candidate.
The new manager would be paid around $55,000, with the salary commensurate with experience, “which is pretty much what city managers in Washington County are paid,” Shorey said last week.
Shorey said the salary the commission paid the county clerk would be folded into the new manager’s salary. With a manager, Shorey said, there would be no need for a county clerk.
Shorey said the new person would have to define the job once hired, but the commissioners believe the manager would perform many of the same duties currently handled by city managers in Calais and Eastport.
“The county has become such that the commission feels that the people of the county would be better served if there was a person here full time watching over everything that is happening,” Shorey said. “What we [as commissioners] get is a snapshot once a week, once a month. We get the reports. But we’re not here. We are not the eyes and the ears.”
It would be up to the manager to promote the county as an economic entity.
“I feel that’s very important,” Shorey said. “The commissioners try to attend as many meetings as possible, but it’s virtually impossible for all of us to be everywhere, plus run all our own businesses and do our own jobs. A manager is going to do that.”
The chairman said the commission also believes it’s important the manager actively look for businesses that might like to relocate or start up in Washington County.
“If we are going to become one community and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, county government has to take the lead,” Gardner said.
In addition to his economic development duties, the manager’s office would be a central repository for all information about state and federal programs that would help existing businesses.
The commissioners and a county-appointed search committee hope to interview applicants within the next few weeks.
“I’d like to go through this as quickly as possible,” Shorey said. If the process is successful, a new manager could be hired by the first of February.