Council discusses Town Manager search details

The Town Council met in workshop Monday, June 3, 2024 with Don Gerrish of Eaton Peabody Consulting Group to review the Draft Town Manager Search Timeline and draft advertisement.  Gerrish has proposed the ad be posted by Tuesday, June 11 with a July 9 deadline to submit.  The ad will be placed with the International City Managers Association, Maine Municipal Association, Massachusetts Municipal Association, and New Hampshire Municipal Association.  Councilor Stephanie Anderson requested that Mainebiz and Maine State Chamber of Commerce be added to the list because, "We did say that we do not want to limit ourselves to municipal government employees." 

The Town Council will receive a package containing all responses by July 12.  Gerrish anticipates receiving no more than 15-30 responses, "But I would be very happy with at least 5-6 quality candidates."  The package will include a list of recommendations from Gerrish based on his preliminary background checks and conversations with most qualified candidates.  Sometime during the week of July 15 the council will meet to review resumes and determine who to move forward for interviews.

First round of interviews will take place during the week of July 22.  Finalists will undergo complete background checks and move on to the second stage set for the week of August 5.  At this stage finalists will meet with Department Heads, participate in a Public Meet, and return to second round of interviews with the Town Council.  Once the Town Council negotiates the contract and starting date with the finalist, the Town Manager selection will be announced around the week of August 12-16.  Gerrish said that the most critical timeframe is the period of interviews with the council when all members should be available, "Candidates really want to see who their bosses will be."

Councilor Penny Jordan asked Gerrish, "Have you ever had an instance where none of the candidates were selected?"  Gerrish answered that it has happened many times and if no one is found, "We will go back out; my fee doesn't change.  I'm here to work with you until you have someone hired."

As for the draft advertisement, Gerrish relied on the ad used for the prior manager search with only one addition, "I did add 'Private business experience would be welcome.'"  Awaiting council input, Gerrish left the salary range unspecified.  The budgeted salary for  former manager Matthew Sturgis was $156,000 starting July 1.  "I recommend that your range be $145,000 to $175,000.  York [York, Maine] just paid $175,000 and Kennebunkport [Kennebunkport, Maine] $165,000.  You need to be in that range to find somebody today."   Pay, retirement, and severance are the three big items that candidates look for according to Gerrish.

During public comment, a resident made a suggestion that the new manager be required to live in the town of Cape Elizabeth.  Gerrish responded that having this requirement may limit the number of people in the applicant pool, "I have not done any in the last five years that had a requirement to live in the community."  Instead, the ad uses the following standard language, "The successful candidate is expected to become an active member of the community and residency is not mandatory but desired."

Gerrish also provided the council with a documentation of "Issues Facing Cape Elizabeth" and "Manager Qualities" taken directly from emails submitted by community members and town employees, and/or shared at the May 29 Public Meeting.

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