Town manager duties presented in Buckfield

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BUCKFIELD — People who showed up at a selectmen workshop Saturday to discuss whether the town should fill the manager position were disappointed to discover that no such discussion was planned.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Eileen Hotham told the packed room that each person would be allowed one minute for comments. She proceeded to go around the room seeking input, but resident Vivian Wadas spoke up to say she felt misinformed.

“I made fliers to hand out, so people could come and discuss the idea of a town manager, not be given a minute to talk,” Wadas said.

Hotham said the board was in agreement that they would prefer having a town manager. Wadas said she didn’t remember such a vote and questioned whether proper procedure was followed. Many of the crowd said they preferred a town manager form of government.

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Interim Town Manager Dana Lee read a prepared list of most of the duties of the town manager, including: work with selectmen to determine his goals and manage activities to meet those goals; evaluate staff on goal achievement; develop and manage budgets; handle all insurance issues; revise and approve spending; write letters to agencies; ensure reports are made in a timely fashion; research and draft policies and ordinance, be available to selectmen and the public, manage contracts, long-term community planning; develop a capital improvement plan; schedule meetings; act as code enforcement officer, tree warden, health officer and EMA director; among other duties.

Selectmen thought a town manager might be able to have the rescue chief be the health officer and turn emergency management over to the fire chief and the EMA administrator.

Lee said the General Assistance director is taking a lot of time now that the state is cutting back on help.

He is highly qualified on roads, but the person the town hires may not be and in that case, Lee suggested that they present a budget that covers a town manager as well as a road commissioner.

Selectman Robin Buswell said there should definitely be three people in the Public Works Department.

The next selectman meeting will be on Feb. 7. A public hearing was scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 16 to accommodate any who wish to participate. After the hearing, the board will approve an ad with a job description for a town manager. Hotham said the board would listen to all constructive input, but not negative comments.

Lee said he would be willing to stay longer than his 90 days as interim in order to make the transition go smoothly.

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