HARRISON —  At 10 p.m., the light in the corner office of the town hall was still on. Town Manager Bud Finch was inside working on his spreadsheets. But he was happy to have townspeople stop in for a visit.

“Just bring me some coffee,” he said with a chuckle.

Now three months into the job he took over from former Town Manager Brad Plante, his easy-going style has laid the foundation for a more relaxed atmosphere among town office workers — a change that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the town’s five selectmen.

“They seem happier,” Selectman Eddie Rolfe noted at a recent selectmen’s meeting.

A photo op last week of the unveiling of the new town sign gave a glimpse into Finch’s management style.

Finch, whose first name is actually George, had to be convinced to pose with Town Clerk Judy Colburn, Bookkeeer April Frank, Deputy Clerk Penny Bean and Secretary Mary Tremblay.

“My mother always told me it was better to be sitting on the sidelines applauding when the parade goes by,” he said.

When it comes to supervising town workers, Finch said, “There are two things I need to do: Give them the tools to do their job, and run interference for them if someone is preventing them from doing their job.”

“And that’s not always easy,” he added.

Finch said he’s impressed with the staff’s background and capabilities. “They have a tremendous work ethic,” Finch said.

This is Finch’s second stint as a town manager, and his second career. He grew up in Eastport, leaving right after high school in 1967 to work at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Conn. He stayed with the company in a variety of different positions, earning his bachelor’s degree, and later moving to southern Maine where he continued to work for the company, and raising a family in the town of Wells.

In the mid-1990s he decided he wanted a career change. His parents still lived in Eastport, and through them, he learned there was an opening for an interim city manager. He applied for the job and got it. But there was nothing interim about it. He stayed for 15 years, during which he developed a passion for managing small town government.

“My basic philosophy is government is like a business — and the taxpayers are the customers and the owners of the business.”

In the short term, Finch plans to take the hundreds of hours he has spent compiling numbers to present a budget that provides an easier way for town officials and taxpayers to see where the $5.8 million is being spent. He’ll do that — he hopes by the end of the week — with the help of the Budget Committee.

“My goal this year is to keep taxes the same,” he said.

In the long term, Finch says, the question is, “How do we continue to make Harrison a healthy and vibrant community?”

“I’m not here until 10 or 11 o’clock at night because I have to be. I work because I love what I do.”

Referring to beds that fold out from the wall, he said, “If they put a Murphy bed in that corner, I wouldn’t even have to go home.”

“I also like to socialize during the day,” he said, referring to his preference of making himself available to employees and taxpayers while putting off the book work until after hours.

“My door is open, so stop by anytime. If you can’t get to see me, make an appointment with Mary.” In an effort to stay in touch with the community, Finch e-mails periodic updates available to anyone who submits an e-mail address.

“I don’t have any preconceived notions about what I can do. I just hope to leave the town better off than when I found it. That’s how we were raised as kids.”

Finch encourages townspeople interested in receiving his updates, or serving on one of the town’s committees, including the Budget Committee, to contact him at: [email protected]

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