CEO backup shortage a ‘huge problem’



MOUNT DESERTA lot of kids grow up dreaming of becoming a lobsterman, architect, doctor, carpenter or municipal code enforcement officer. 

Wait…what? 

That last one is probably not high on the list of career ambitions for most young people, which might help explain why good, qualified CEOs are hard to find, at least in this area. 

Tremont Town Manager Chris Saunders said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Acadia-area League of Towns board that he and Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt have talked about the possibility of crafting a CEO backup agreement. 

“If one of our towns suddenly didn’t have a code enforcement officer, we might have a system set up where one town could provide back up for another,” Saunders said. “I don’t know if any other towns would be interested in having that discussion. 

“Unfortunately, we’re in the situation where, with no malice intended, I think Southwest Harbor and Tremont are competing for the same limited pool of people.” 

Currently, John Larson is the Southwest Harbor CEO. His deputy, Jesse Dunbar, is CEO in Tremont. 

CEOs are responsible for ensuring that construction projects in their towns comply with building codes and local land use ordinances. 

Saunders said he would like for the Hancock County Planning Commission to develop a group of CEOs who could be hired out to municipalities. 

“In theory it works, but in practice it would be hard for them to find people, as it would be for any of us individually, he said. 

Lunt said, “It would be great if there was a pool to draw from, so I could say, ‘I’m going to have a two-week need in August [when our CEO is on vacation], and I would like to reserve a person for that time.’ That would be a tremendous help.” 

Lunt said he has been trying for more than a year to hire someone to fill in when CEO Kim Keene is on vacation or, for some other reason, is not available for an extended period. 

“Now, when Kim isn’t able to be here, we don’t have any code enforcement capacity,” he said. “It’s a huge problem. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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