Southwest Harbor Selectman George Jellison suggested that the town wait to advertise for a new town manager until a decision has been made regarding the full-time or part-time status of the post. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Need for full-time manager debated

By Henriette Chacar

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SOUTHWEST HARBOR — A decision on whether the new town manager here, to take over in June when Don Lagrange retires, will work full- or part-time will wait until selectmen are further along in their review of next year’s budget.

“I think it’s premature to advertise for a town manager without knowledge of which way this board is going to go as far as the administration budget,” Selectman George Jellison said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The board agreed to make a decision on the question at its Jan. 23 meeting.

Tuesday’s agenda included a discussion with Maine Municipal Association consultant David Barrett about what the town needs in a new manager. They also were to decide on an advertising plan. Barrett agreed to send a draft advertisement but wait to distribute it until the full- or part-time decision was made.

“Full-time or part-time is a fundamental question, and it dramatically impacts who applies,” he said.

Currently, Lagrange serves as code enforcement officer as well as manager. But he plans to stay on as CEO after his June retirement. In previous discussions, selectmen estimated that he spends 3-1/2 days working as town manager. Jellison said employing a full-time manager in addition to keeping Lagrange as CEO would require a significant budget increase.

Selectman Ryan Donahue said he worried that the town wouldn’t attract quality contenders for a part-time position and suggested expanding the manager’s responsibilities so that the job fits a full-time schedule. He said economic development work could be added to the new manager’s responsibilities.

“There’s an effort by the town to be business-friendly and look at what can be done to drive business opportunities to Southwest Harbor,” he said.

Board Chair Lydia Goetze said a candidate should be skilled in medium- and long-term planning, tech-savvy and familiar with maritime environments.

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