ELLSWORTH — The city will likely be looking nationwide in an effort to find a successor to outgoing City Manager Michelle Beal.
Beal announced last month that she will be leaving to take a job as chief operating officer at the Bangor law firm of Rudman Winchell. Her last day working for the city will be Friday, March 20.
City Council Chairman Bob Crosthwaite said the city has contracted with Eaton Peabody Consulting Group in Augusta, which is affiliated with the law firm of the same name, to help find a new city manager.
The consultants will work with the city to find candidates for a permanent successor to Beal, as well as to help select an interim city manager in the meantime.
Crosthwaite said the consultants at Eaton Peabody have municipal experience and will do the initial vetting of applicants for the job.
“We feel real confident with them,” he said.
Crosthwaite said there “seems to be a bit of a shortage in the city manager and town manager field.” The Eaton Peabody consultants told the city would be well-served by casting as wide a net as possible.
“We want to make sure that we’re getting the best person,” he said. “We don’t want to limit ourselves.”
Crosthwaite said once the city has a list of candidates to work with, a committee will be formed including council members, city department heads and likely a couple of citizens to help select a candidate.
He said city officials also hope to give members of the public a chance to meet with finalists for the job once the pool of applicants has been winnowed.
In the short-term, Crosthwaite is working with Beal and Eaton Peabody staff to find an interim city manager. He said the goal is to get someone on board before March 20 so that he or she can work with Beal before she leaves.
While a few prospects have already been contacted, nothing had materialized as of Feb. 13. Crosthwaite said while time is of the essence, the city doesn’t want to rush on finding an interim, either.
“We feel like we need someone who has experience as well as an understanding of the jargon,” he said. “If you’re familiar with the terminology, that’s a huge help.”
Crosthwaite said that even as the two search efforts are underway, “things are moving ahead” at City Hall on the many ongoing projects in Ellsworth. He said the City Council has “a lot of confidence in the department heads and employees,” who number about 100 in total.
Department heads are already working on building their respective budgets, and Crosthwaite said Beal’s goal is to have a first draft of an overall city budget for 2015-2016 in the City Council’s hands before she leaves.
“There’s a lot expected of everybody, but people seem to be feeling like it’s a team effort,” he said.