Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 11, 2017
Selectmen table town manager discussion Will reopen in June
by Monique Labbe
The Deer Isle Selectmen decided to table moving forward with the possible transition to a town manager system of government until next month, during the board’s weekly meeting on May 4.
The three selectmen agreed to continue researching the town manager model over the next few weeks, so they would be better prepared to discuss the transition with residents during a public hearing before the referendum vote on June 13. That hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Selectman Ron Eaton voiced concern over how the town’s elected officials and positions would be chosen under a town manager. Right now, the town clerk, treasurer/tax collector and road commissioner are all elected by voters during elections in March. Eaton said that from the research he has done, it seems as though those positions would be appointed rather than elected.
Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings was in attendance during the meeting, and noted that she holds the titles of town clerk and tax collector, and that she is generally tasked with the hiring and firing of town staff. Billings added that she does work closely with the selectmen in her capacity as town manager because the selectmen ultimately make the bigger decisions for the town.
Selectman Lew Ellis noted that whoever would come in as town manager would not come in and “clean house” with the staff, but would instead try to work with them in the day-to-day operations at the town office.
“No matter what, the selectmen are the ones who make most of the decisions,” said Ellis. “The town manager would work with us, but he or she would be here every day to make sure things in here are running well on a daily basis.”