Topsham select board debates nepotism in the town’s workforce March 17. Maria Skillings

Topsham Select Board on Thursday tabled a request from the town manager to remove a section of the town’s personnel policy regarding nepotism.

Nepotism is defined as acts of favoritism based on family relationships.

Town Manager Derek Scrapchansky said that by altering the current personnel policy, he hoped the town would, in its hiring, “open up the doors for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to apply or be promoted within.”

The town is struggling to fill positions with applicants from outside communities, in part because of a housing shortage.

“This could also help remedy that,” Scrapchansky said.

Board member Ruth Lyons recalled seeing her fair share of nepotism in the workforce and said she believed it can cause problems.


Board member Matthew Nixon echoed Lyons’ concerns but agreed that “it is almost impossible to find employees now.”

Maine’s unemployment rate as of January was 4.1%, on par with the national average. The unemployment rate in Sagadahoc County, in which Topsham is located, is 3.2%. Last year at this time the rate was 4.5%

Assistant Town Manager Mark M. Waltz said he never had an issue with nepotism in the 22 years he served on the Brunswick police force. There were two brothers on the force at the same time, with one being a communications supervisor, Waltz said, “two of our best employees at the police department.”

Board Chair David Douglass said a new policy should ensure that family members of town employees are not eligible for human resources positions, which have the power to carry out disciplinary actions, hirings and firings among other duties.

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