Casco manager job to be advertised after holidays

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The year-end holidays are not the best time to advertise for a managerial job.

Therefore, the advertisements for the Casco town manager position will not be posted until mid-January or early February.

That is according to Dave Barrett, the Director of Personnel Services and Labor Relations for the Maine Municipal Association (MMA).

“We should start [advertising] right after the first of the year. People will be settled back into their lives,” Barrett said. “Advertising for jobs during the holidays is not productive.”

The first step before posting the future job vacancy is to determine what qualifications and skills are desired in the next town manager, he said. That objective is obtained through an hour-long “needs assessment” discussion that may include members of the community, he said.

Barrett was the guest speaker during the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday.

Barrett outlined a hiring time line for the board, talked about the potential candidate pool, and answered questions.

Also, on Tuesday, the board officially hired Barrett for the job of helping to hire a new town manager before Casco Town Manager Dave Morton retires after 41 years.

The cost of MMA’s service is $5,500. That does not include the advertising costs, which will be tacked onto the bill at the end of the hiring process.

The town manager hiring time line is about four months long once the job is advertised.

The first step is: Barrett will meet with the board and interested community members to figure out what is needed in the next town manager of Casco. That discussion is scheduled to take place during the Jan. 8, 2019 meeting.

“The discussion is not a meeting that will be held in executive session” because it is not about a specific employee but a general conversation about what will be desired from the future town manager, Barrett said.

“A search 30 years ago — it was pretty rare that a board or town council would include others in the search process. Now, it is the other way. Now, others will participate. It has to be structured, a group size that is manageable. Once that meeting is over with, I will draft an advertisement,” Barrett said.

“At the end of the day, the five of you are the only ones that get to raise your hands. You have to make the decision of what is the best method,” he said.

Barrett talked about how things pan out after the needs assessment discussion involving residents and elected officials.

“It is generally one month of advertising and two months of heavy lifting on your part. Assume a candidate may have to give a one-month notice either because of commitments to a current employer” or the time required to move to the area,” Barrett said.

“It is a four-month process,” he said.

Barrett said that Morton hopes to retire in June, which means advertising for the town manager job should happen no later than February.

The resume packages will be sent directly to MMA, rather than to the town office.

“Resumes and applications come to our office. We respond to each one. We provide the applicants with a calendar of when things are gong to happen so they are not calling the town office and asking questions,” Barrett said.

“Once the application deadline passes, I sort the resumes and send them to you so that you can spend some time with the resumes, looking through them, talking about which candidates you might be interested in,” he told the board. “Then, you get the number down, schedule interviews, and get candidates to come here.”

“In advance, I’ll get the questions to you so that on the night of the interviews you will be ready,” he said.

“At the end of the process, we do the background checks. We draft the employment agreement or contract you wish to have,” he said.

After Barrett talked about the handling the resumes and setting up the interviews, Selectman Grant Plummer spoke about the importance of a close-knit partnership during that part of the process.

“Casco is a unique community. Part of it is that Dave has been here for 41 years,” Plummer said.

“I want to make sure the town is involved in the process, and it’s not just happening at MMA’s desk…that they are handing us resumes based on a one-hour discussion,” he said.

“I want the relationship to be close, together. I want to make sure that we are involved in the process,” Plummer said.

Barrett responded. This was after some talk about how the town manager candidate pool had diminished greatly over the decades.

“In the days when we would get 80 resumes — you are busy folks and you hired us to do that—I would send 25 down with a list of all 80,” Barrett said. “Essentially, at the resume review meeting [all of the applicant’s resumes] would be there. But those were the days when there were 80 applicants.”

“If you get 30, you will get a packet of 15 and a second packet of 15. I will help you get to a manageable number so you can decide,” Barrett explained.

Plummer responded saying, “this is valuable information.”

According to Barrett, MMA provides the service of helping with the town manager search process to about six to eight municipalities a year.

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