Towns renew chief-sharing deal: Longer-term agreement pending

MOUNT DESERT — The agreement between Mount Desert and Bar Harbor to share a police chief and the chief’s administrative assistant has been renewed for another year. The current agreement expires Dec. 31.

The Mount Desert Board of Selectmen approved the renewal Monday night. The Bar Harbor Town Council did so Tuesday night.

The document is legally an “employee-leasing agreement” under which Bar Harbor leases the services of Mount Desert Police Chief Jim Willis from Mount Desert and Mount Desert leases the services of Administrative Assistant Karen Richter from Bar Harbor.

Willis has been chief of police in Mount Desert since 2003 and has served as chief of the Bar Harbor Police Department since November 2013. Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt said recently that the arrangement has been “a smashing success.”

Under the renewed chief-sharing agreement, Willis is to focus on several priorities including the continuation of records management software integration, studying the feasibility of consolidating the two towns’ dispatch operations, studying the feasibility of facility consolidation and improving efficiencies between the two police departments.

Meanwhile, the two town managers have said they are working on making the chief-sharing arrangement more formal and long-term.

“Our attorneys are advising us that we need to move to an inter-local agreement because they want us to limit liability exposures from being a joint employer,” Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight said at a League of Towns meeting in October.

The Bar Harbor Town Council can approve an inter-local agreement for sharing the police chief and administrative assistant, but it will require a vote by Mount Desert residents at town meeting in May.

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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