Bridgton begins search for new town manager

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A new committee will hold its first organizational meeting tonight, Feb. 13, as Bridgton begins the search for a new Town Manager to replace Mitch Berkowitz, who is retiring after eight years.

Selectman Chairman Doug Taft on Tuesday said the board has decided not to enlist an outside agency to help them with the search. Instead, the board has created a local Application Review Committee charged with selecting five finalists for the board to interview from all applications submitted for the job.

The members of the committee, as selected by the board in executive session, are the following Bridgton residents: Stan Cohen, Medicare advocate; Wayne Rivet, editor and publisher of The Bridgton News; Georgiann Fleck, executive assistant to the town manager; Mike Tarantino, board member of the Bridgton Community Center; Karen Eller, member of the SAD 61 Board of Directors; Steve Stevens, Budget Committee Chairman; and Eileen Rounds, designated broker and manager, Chalmers Realty.

Community Development Committee Chairman Chuck Renneker volunteered to also serve on the search committee, but the board decided to stick with the names they’d selected. Taft thanked him for his interest.

At tonight’s organizational meeting, which begins at 4 p.m., the committee will select a chairman and decide how best to go about reviewing applications. Taft said the board is still fine-tuning its selection criteria. The committee will be asked to rate each candidate on a myriad of qualifications, taking into account such things as budgeting skills, years of experience and personality, in order to find the best “fit” for Bridgton.

After the organizational meeting, all of the committee’s work will be done in executive session, and members will be held to strict rules of confidentiality as required under Maine law, both during their work and after it is completed. They can contact applicants for clarifications and check references, but the committee will not be doing any actual interviewing. The deadline for candidate applications is March 14, and the committee will give selectmen the list of the top five finalists by early April. The board will take around a month to interview the finalists, and hopes to be able to make a final hiring decision some time in May. The new manager would start work some time after that, depending on his or her current job commitments. Berkowitz has agreed to stay on for a time after the new person is hired to help with the transition.

Selectmen set a base salary of $62,000 for the job, subject to negotiation. Berkowitz’s salary is $84,000, which includes $2,000 for longevity.

The board approved a $4,000 advertising budget for the job, with ads to be placed in the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, Public Management, the magazine of the International City/County Management Association, and publications of The New England Municipal Association. “We’re hitting the New England states hard,” Berkowitz said.

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