DIXFIELD – Tom Richmond doesn’t spend all day, everyday behind his desk in the town office.
He likes to get out and see what’s going on with roads, the water district, the sewer department.
The new town manager, now into his ninth week on the job and getting his feet under him, has found his new leadership role much to his liking.
“I am very comfortable working here, with the office employees, highway crew, residents,” he said Monday morning. “Residents stop in occasionally to talk about town projects.”
Richmond has spent years as a town manager, most recently in Steuben in eastern Maine, but Dixfield is Richmond’s first town that provides most of its own services.
While serving as Greene’s town manager, he oversaw a highway department, but that’s as far as it went. He said the small towns he has served generally contract out for such things as police, sewer and water.
But now that he’s familiar with Dixfield, he has lots of ideas and goals to improve what’s already in place.
Included in his top goals are development of a long-term plan for the paving and upgrading town roads and a sewer department maintenance program.
“There needs to be a plan in place to address the sewer department,” he said, adding that a rate hike is likely because so many of the pipes are at least 30 years old. And, he said, the town is subsidizing sewer customers.
He also wants a long-term road repair program so the town won’t be hit with an unexpected expense.
Plans for the water department appear to be moving along well. Selectmen recently signed a contract with the Mexico Water District to operate Dixfield’s water department until the end of the year, and plans are under way to work toward a three-year contract with the neighboring town, he said.
Richmond is also looking to have the town’s public works department do more road construction and to hire a mechanic/truck driver capable of repairing road equipment and police cruisers. In another potential cost saver, he is looking into the possibility of buying a utility trailer that could haul a backhoe of excavator to a work site.
Taking the position in Dixfield has its added benefits.
Because he and his wife live in Bass Harbor, he lives with his son, Scott, in Livermore during the week, the area where he grew up.
“I get to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in years,” he said.
And although the commute during the weekends is long – he leaves Dixfield Friday afternoons and returns bright and early Monday morning – it, too has its benefits.
“I saw the sun rising this morning as I left Bass Harbor at 4:30. It was beautiful,” he said.
His first few weeks have been busy but productive.
“The overall attitude of the town and the townspeople has been positive,” he said.