News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 11, 2019
Deer Isle selectmen explore road commissioner options

by Monique Labbe

The Deer Isle Board of Selectmen and Town Manger Jim Fisher are looking into turning the position of road commissioner into an appointed one.

The position has historically been voted on by townspeople during March elections prior to town meeting. Current Road Commissioner Bert Schmidt has held the position since 2016, but informed the selectmen a few weeks ago that this would be his last term. When Schmidt made the announcement to the board, they thought it was an opportunity to move toward an appointed position, according to Fisher.

“I believe that most town manager governments have appointed road commissioners,” said Fisher. “This gives the select board and the town manager a bit more of a voice in setting priorities for a variety of public works activities.”

An informational hearing was held during the selectmen’s October 3 meeting, and though attendance was light, Fisher said the discussion was “generally supportive.”

The board of selectmen has the option of holding a special town meeting if they want to convert the position into an appointed one. That would need to happen at least 90 days prior to the March town meeting, according to Fisher.

“If there is a vote to convert the position to being appointed, then our current road commissioner will serve out his term until March,” said Fisher.

The town would need to post a job announcement in January with the intent of having someone in place to over-lap with the elected road commissioner. Hiring would be like other hiring with job announcements, references, interviews and selection.

“Our budgetary planning process has started, but we haven’t discussed specific salaries for any positions yet. The workload varies quite a bit with a lot of overtime during the peak snow season and other times with slack demand,” said Fisher.