Town Manager Berkowitz to retire

P1 39 berkowitz retires-1

MAKING IT OFFICIAL — Bridgton Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz shakes hands with Selectmen Chairman Doug Taft as he submitted his letter of resignation at Tuesday’s Selectmen meeting. (Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

In a surprise announcement, Bridgton Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz announced Tuesday he is retiring from public service, and will be leaving the Bridgton job on Oct. 2.

The announcement came after Berkowitz presented his recommended budget for FY 14–15 to the Bridgton Board of Selectmen.

“This will be my last budget,” he began, patting the three-inch thick ring-bound document. “After a great amount of thought and discussion with my wife Sally, I have arrived at that point in my life where I am ready to transition to ‘the next set of great adventures’.”

Selectmen had no foreknowledge of Berkowitz’s decision, they said after the meeting. The board had just completed Berkowitz’s semi-annual review in November and voted Dec. 10 to reappoint him for another year.

Berkowitz has served as Bridgton Town Manager for eight years, having been hired in April of 2006. Prior to that, he worked as Gray Town Manager for five years, and still lives in Gray.

He said he’ll turn 66 this summer. “After 43 years of work I am proud to have been given the opportunity to serve the people of Bridgton…and wrap up my career with the finest group of employees any community could ask for,” said Berkowitz, who became visibly emotional when referring to his staff. He reiterated his appreciation as the meeting came to an end.

“We have a wonderful staff of people, and any success I’ve had is really shared with them,” Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz said he wanted to provide the board with “ample time and contact” before leaving, “so that we may complete the FY 2015 budget and bring it before the annual town meeting.” He will also remain available to work with the new auditors, staff members and various projects “and provide you with guidance as you engage the hiring process for a replacement town manager.”

He plans to begin taking vacation leave in early July. Berkowitz also offered to help work with the next town manager, “so that their entry and my exit will be seamless and fluid, causing minimal disruption to the various responsibilities of our municipal government.”

Berkowitz said he could have given a month’s notice, but he didn’t want to leave the town scrambling to find his replacement. “It’s time for a younger person to step in and take over,” he said. He said he had no plans to take another job after leaving Bridgton. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m vested in this community.”

Berkowitz then stood and delivered his formal letter of resignation to Chairman Doug Taft, who shook his hand. “Thank you for your years of service, Mitch,” Taft said.

After Berkowitz shook hands with the four other members of the board, the meeting continued without further comment on his news. It is expected that the board will discuss the process for searching for a new town manager at their next meeting.

In his resignation letter, Berkowitz said he’s confident that Bridgton will meet all of the challenges ahead.

“Over the next few months, I hope that we will lay out all of the critical issues and deadlines that are important to you,” he said. “Please do not hesitate in asking questions so that we may sustain the ongoing services for our growing community.”

 

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