Interim hiring: End to town manager musical chairs

INTERIM TOWN MANAGER — Mitch Berkowitz stands in the meeting room in the Naples Town Hall. (Photo courtesy of Town of Naples)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It’s been a while since the town manager seat had someone sitting in it.

The seat has been empty since September.

This Monday, the seating arrangement at the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting was different — different and temporary.

The newly-contracted Interim Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz was doing one of his required duties — attending the selectmen’s meetings — for the first time since he was sworn in on Nov. 21.

First off, Berkowitz wanted to make it clear that this was temporary. He had no plans to come out of retirement. The interim job was just that, he said, for the time being, until a town manager is hired.

“I am not interested in the full-time position,” Berkowitz said.

He indicated that he has been asked if he is okay with being retired or would he rather apply for the town manager vacancy. He has replied to those people “I am retired,” he said.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, Chairman Jim Grattelo introduced Berkowitz.

“Mitch is here tonight. He will be attending the selectmen’s meetings. We welcome him aboard while we are hiring,” Grattelo said.

During the course of its meeting, the board did not discuss town manager candidates or talk about a timeline for interviews or hiring.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the Town of Naples released a press release that narrowed down to four weeks the timeline for filling the vacancy.

“The Town is in the hiring process to hire a full-time town manager. Guided by the efforts of Dave Barrett of the Maine Municipal Association, the board of selectmen will be interviewing several applicants over the next week in hopes of making a selection by the end of the year,” the press release said.

The press release explained the reason behind hiring an interim town manager and provided some basic information about Berkowitz.

The selectmen are “continuing their hiring process for a new town manager. During this time, the board has also engaged the services of Mitchell Berkowitz as their Interim Town Manager. Prior to coming to Naples, Berkowitz had been an interim town manager for the Town of Jackman, Maine,” the press release said.

“Berkowitz will work a part-time schedule, addressing several pending issues and preparing for the arrival of the town’s next town manager,” it said.

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