NAPLES — With John Hawley’s recent selection as Naples town manager, each of the nine towns covered by the Lakes Region Weekly is set to have a full-time chief executive in place for the first time in months.
Hawley, who was town manager in Mechanic Falls before moving to RSU 16 as the director of operations, will be paid $79,500 in his first year. That puts him near the bottom of the town manager pay scale in the region.
Various factors go into determining a manager’s salary, according to David Barrett of the Maine Municipal Association, who assisted in the recent town manager search in Naples. Those include the size of the community and the level of managerial experience the municipality seeks.
“It’s an intensely local decision,” Barrett said.
Of the town managers in the Lakes Region, Tony Plante has the biggest salary at $120,000 in Windham, the area’s largest town.
Standish Town Manager Kris Tucker started work in December with a salary of $100,000. Raymond Town Manager Don Willard’s salary is $98,280. Gray’s Deborah Cabana makes $96,188. Bob Peabody is paid $95,790 in Bridgton, Dave Morton $85,229 in Casco, Carrie Castonguay $68,000 in New Gloucester, and Michele Bukoveckas $59,000 in Sebago.
Barrett, director of personnel services and labor relations at the Maine Municipal Association, estimates he has helped in at least 150 manager searches over more than 30 years.
The landscape for prospective managers has “changed significantly in the last 10 to 15 years,” he said, and there are “significantly fewer” applicants. He stressed the trend is “not exclusive to town managers” and has been seen with other municipal positions.
Hawley will be on board in late February in Naples, which according to the most recent census in 2010, has a population of nearly 3,900. Like many towns in the region, that number balloons in the summer with seasonal residents.
If at age 49, Hawley will be the new kid on the Lakes Region block, Casco’s Morton could be seen as an elder statesman.
It’s not Morton’s age – 62 – that stands out, rather it’s the time he’s spent in his role. Morton says he’s now in his 40th year as Casco manager, having assumed the role at the age of 22. He recounted with a laugh that he was initially “told not to tell anybody how old I was” when he started.
Morton’s contract was last updated in 2015, and his current salary is $85,229 in a town with approximately 3,700 residents as of 2010.
Morton understands that’s a sizable amount of money to many people and added, “that’s why I never really say I’m underpaid.”
Plante, who started as Windham manager in 1996, has seen his salary increase from $55,000 to $120,000 over more than two decades in one of Maine’s fastest-growing municipalities.
The 2010 census lists the Windham population at just over 17,000 people. Since then, the town has been recognized by the census bureau as one of Maine’s fastest-growing towns.
“For me, local government is about, hopefully, having a positive impact on people’s everyday lives,” Plante said. “It’s never possible to please everybody, but you have to get the best information that you can, make the best decisions that you can.”
Tucker, a relative newcomer to the group of Lakes Region managers, replaced longtime manager Gordy Billington in December.
Tucker, who is in his early 40s, is the youngest of the group. His contract starts with a $100,000 salary that goes up by $5,000 if he moves to Standish within six months of his start date. That residency stipend will apply to any future employment contracts between Tucker and the town.
Tucker’s salary is the second largest in the nine manager contracts reviewed for this report, and Standish is the second-largest town at 9,874 in the 2010 census.
Don Willard has been the manager in Raymond for more than 17 years, having previously served as manager in Rockport and Dixfield. He is now paid $98,280 in a town of more than 4,400 people, which he said jumps to about 12,000 seasonally.
Deborah Cabana said that she’s been manager in Gray for 12 years and her current salary is $96,188. She last signed a contract with the town in 2010, which set an $85,000 salary slated to increase each year along with pay increases for other senior salaried staff.
Cabana’s five-year contract ran through 2015 with a provision that it could be automatically extended for an additional year, and that one-year extension can only happen three times. The Gray Town Council has recently had discussions about Cabana’s contract in executive session.
Gray had a population of 7,781 in the 2010 census.
Bob Peabody started as manager in Bridgton – a town of more than 5,200 – in 2014 after previously serving in the same capacity for Rockport. He said his salary this year is $95,790 and 20 percent of it is being drawn from two of the town’s enterprise funds: the wastewater fund and the salmon point campground fund. The rest of his salary comes out of the administration portion of the town budget.
Carrie Castonguay, in her first year on the job as New Gloucester manager, signed a three-year contract in March that includes a starting annual salary of $68,000.
New Gloucester has a population of more than 5,500 based on the 2010 census.
Sebago Town Manager Michele Bukoveckas said her salary was recently bumped from $58,000 to $59,000 after she started as manager in July 2017. Bukoveckas previously served for 19 years as town clerk in the town of slightly more than 1,700 people.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.