AUBURN — City leaders must think carefully about their relationship with their Twin City across the Androscoggin River, the outgoing interim city manager advised at his final City Council meeting Monday night.

“I think you need to take a look at how you work together and how you may not want to work with each other,” Don Gerrish said. “It’s OK to talk about it —  maybe Auburn doesn’t want to work with Lewiston on certain items.”

Gerrish will continue to work with the city until June 18, when Clint Deschene is set to assume the job.

“I’ll be in a couple more days this week, then a couple of days next week,” Gerrish said. “I’ll be here on the 18th, but I’ll be sitting out in the audience.”

Gerrish left councilors with a list of 33 to-do items. Suggestions include reviewing the city’s ordinance approval process and its curbside recycling program, redesigning Auburnmaine.org, the city’s website, and scheduling ward meetings.

Gerrish called out seven tasks that need special attention.

The Twin Cities’ relationship topped the list.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to talk about, but I think it’s healthy, as the community moves forward, to really understand what that relationship is,” he said. “I’m not here to tell you to change it or to make different decisions, but you need to talk about it. It think sometimes there are positions taken (that) Auburn may not want to do.”

Gerrish also suggested councilors look at how the entire city is managed and organized and to set concrete policy goals with their departments and department managers.

“This council and their departments need to be on the same page,” Gerrish said. “What is expected? What are our policies and what are the expectations? And make sure those expectations translate to the departments.”

Gerrish urged councilors to polish their relationship with the School Department. He also urged them to be patient with their new manager, Deschene, to give him time to settle into the job and review the goals.

“I think your goals today might be a little different, with a new manager coming in,” Gerrish said.

Gerrish, a consultant working with municipal recruiters Eaton Peabody, began working with Auburn in December. Gerrish managed city operations and helped councilors manage the job search.

His next job takes him to Freeport, where Eaton Peabody is helping that town recruit a new city manager. He’s helping with the search, not managing the town this time.

“I just need a break,” Gerrish said.

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Gerrish farewell by CityNewsSJ


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