WINDHAM — The town will wait for spring to reopen its search for a town manager and Interim Town Manager Don Gerrish will remain in his position until June, when the budget is adopted.
The Town Council originally expected to appoint a new manager the week of Jan. 14-18. The town advertised the position in November, and Gerrish said he expected to receive between 25 and 30 applications.
“The market around the holidays isn’t the greatest. We didn’t get as many applications,” Gerrish said.
Eaton Peabody, the consulting group leading the search, received only 18 applications, so the town decided to reopen the application process in January in order to draw more candidates.
Instead, Gerrish recently recommended to the council that it wait to bring in a new manager until after the town budget process is completed in June. The search process will begin again in April or May, and he will stay on until June.
“Having someone come in the middle of the budget is very difficult,” he said. “Let’s wait and give us some time for the council to kind of go through some more processes.”
In addition, he is concerned about filling other staff vacancies in town. Former Planning Director Ben Smith left in April 2018 to establish his own planning firm, and Town Planner Amanda Lessard has been serving as interim since December 2018. The town engineer, Jon Earle, also recently resigned for a position at Maine Water Company.
Gerrish said the town is advertising for both positions and trying to get “all the staff we need.”
He said that by staying on longer as interim manager he can help with “continuity” as the town deals with the budget and staffing issues.
“Sometime in April or May we would start the process again and see where we are,” he said.
Gerrish was hired to serve as interim town manager last October for $600 a day. He has been working three days a week, although that may increase in the coming months. The contract stipulates that Gerrish remain in the role until a new manager was hired or the council no longer required his services.
He assumed the role after then-Town Manager Tony Plante left with a $175,000 severance package amid turmoil on the council about his job performance. Plante’s departure angered many residents, who felt he was forced out.
Gerrish served as town manager in Brunswick for nearly 20 years and was manager of Gorham for 10. He has also served as interim town manager in South Portland.
Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gerrish at a Town Council meeting in October.
Interim Town Manager Don Gerrish, right, listens to Windham residents speak about their requirements for a new town manager at a forum last November. At his right is consultant Dick Metivier.