Casco town manager search on the horizon

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — In another seven months, the Town of Casco will begin advertising for a new town manager.

Current Town Manager Dave Morton, who has served in that capacity for 40 years, plans to retire in 2019 and hopes to be free for a fishing trip by June.

Morton’s retirement might be news to some residents, according to Selectman Grant Plummer.

“Some people in town don’t know that Dave is retiring. We should we put it on the sign” outside the Casco Community Center, Plummer said. “I talked to two individuals who are up on stuff; and they said, ‘What are you talking about?’ They weren’t at the town meeting.”

Morton first publicly announced his plans to retire during the town meeting in June. But, there hasn’t been much talk about it since.

On Tuesday, the topic of redefining the town manager position was on the agenda of the Casco Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

“It has been a long time since the Town of Casco searched for a manager. The board would be smart to engage professional services,” Plummer said.

Chairman Holly Hancock started the discussion, saying that she had contacted the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) and spoke with David Barrett, the director of personnel services and labor relations.

“What he is recommending is to advertise before March 1 and to interview in April,” Hancock said.

Morton added his request to the timeframe.

“I want to give notice and retire by the first of June. It is fishing season,” he said.

Hancock said that once someone is hired that person will need “to give at least a 30-day notice at their current job.”

She recapped the tasks that would need to be done.

“We can contract with MMA to help with the advertising. We can come up with a job description. We are inviting input from the community on Sept. 25,” she said.

The public hearing will be held during the board’s Sept 25 meeting. That hearing will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on what they “are looking for in a town manager,” Hancock said.

What may take longer to formulate is a new job description for the town manager. It is highly likely that it will not include the role of the road commissioner.

“You have had a two-for-one for years,” Morton said.

“The board may want to look carefully at the road commissioner part. Break that out so that is not the town manager’s direct responsibility,” he said.

Morton suggested a part-time position that includes the duties of road commissioner.

Selectman Plummer spoke.

“I have never liked the responsibility, the liability of it all. The road commissioner should have been at a different table than yours,” Plummer said.

Morton agreed with removing some of the roles that had previously been left on the town manager’s plate.

“We have made the changes. The town manager is no longer the treasurer and tax collector,” he said, adding that was a logical split of duties.

Hancock said it would be appropriate for the board members to jot down ideas regarding the future town manager.

“As we are putting this together, we are preparing for the town manager after that. I mean we are going to get maybe five years” from the person who is hired,” she said. “We are not going to get another 40-year town manager.”

Selectman Mary Fernandes spoke.

“I see this [topic] as being ongoing, especially with someone who has been doing that job for 40 years,” she said.

Plummer said, “It is a substantial transition for us.”

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