BUCKFIELD — Town Manager Dana Lee tendered his resignation late last week and intends to take a new job in Eliot, leaving possibly as early as next month.

In an interview on Friday, Lee said he would miss working in Buckfield but was being presented with a excellent professional opportunity in Eliot, where he will be the town’s first town manager. The town’s Board of Selectmen voted to authorize his hiring at a meeting Thursday night. Eliot is a town of about 6,200 in Southern Maine near Portsmouth, N.H.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” Lee said. “Eliot is a growing community that is changing its governance structure, and I think that’s really exciting and I’d like to be part of that.” Lee said he expects to begin working in Eliot as early as the second week in February.

Buckfield Chairman Warren Wright said the board intends to act on Lee’s resignation during its Jan. 21 meeting. Selectmen will also discuss what to do next to fill the empty position.

Lee, 51, was hired as Buckfield’s interim town manager in January 2012, following the departure of its former town manager, Glen Holmes. Six months later, selectmen hired him full time.

A Falmouth native, Lee was town manager in Mechanic Falls, where he lives, for 16 years before leaving in 2006 to work at the Maine Municipal Association. In 2007, he accepted a job as town manager in Poland. He resigned from that job in 2011, citing his frustration with repeated accusations of impropriety from a small group of citizens.

Leaving Buckfield will be sad, but his new position will give him the challenge of managing a larger municipal government, Lee said.

“You have more staff, more departments, more going on,” Lee said. “It’s more challenging, and I’m really looking forward to that.”

Lee said he has been able to make some significant achievements during his short tenure in Buckfield, including moving forward a plan to build a new fire-rescue building and increasing productivity, morale and resident satisfaction in the Public Works Department.

He believes he is leaving the town in a good position, although he acknowledges that his departure will inevitably create some complications for the town, especially as it begins its 2014-2015 annual budget process.

“I’ve found this over 2o-plus years of managing towns: There’s just never a good time to leave; you’re always in the middle of something,” Lee said.

“If you’re leaving a town with ‘well, that’s the perfect time to leave,’ you probably didn’t have enough to do.”

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