Something is very wrong in Auburn City Hall.

During the past five years, since January of 2012, Auburn has had two city managers and is looking for a third. There has been a full (not interim) city manager only two-thirds of the time. The current acting city manager, who had been a candidate for the post, has announced that he will be leaving to work in Lewiston.

Granted, the job of city manager is a very difficult one these days, requiring one to navigate a web of conflicting budget priorities in a climate of declining prosperity. However, the job of city manager is made immeasurably more difficult when he/she is not allowed to do the job.

Auburn was the first city in Maine — the second in New England — to adopt the council-manager form of government. Under the city charter, “The City Manager shall be administrative head of the City government and shall be responsible to the City Council for the administration of all departments other than the Department of Education.”

It seems that Auburn’s mayor, followed by the council, has, instead, decided to micromanage the manager.

Maybe Auburn will be able to find a manager who stays here long enough to achieve some stability for the good of the city if the mayor and council relearn their responsibilities. Then Auburn can be proud that it once set the standard for city governance and still adheres to it.

Bonnie Lounsbury, Auburn

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