ELLSWORTH — Without challenge or opposition, Bob Crosthwaite was elected to serve another year as City Council chairman Monday morning.
That vote came six days after he and fellow Councilor Steve Beathem were re-elected to the council. Both men ran unopposed and both were elected to three-year terms.
“After last year, sir, I hope this year is much better,” said Councilor Gary Fortier after Crosthwaite was confirmed as chairman on Monday at the council’s annual organizational meeting.
The comment was not a dig at Crosthwaite, but a reflection on all that has happened at City Hall in the past 12 months.
In January, City Manager Michelle Beal announced she was leaving her post to take a job at a Bangor law firm.
The search to find her successor, which eventually led to former Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Cole, took several months and had to be extended once after the candidates the council was interested in at that time took jobs elsewhere.
Building the municipal budget took longer than usual because of a delay in the state budget process in Augusta. When the dust finally settled, Ellsworth’s tax rate was up 7.6 percent over last year.
And in late September, a year after taking the job, Police Chief Chris Coleman announced he would be stepping down by the end of the year.
Coleman said he wants to do something other than law enforcement, and that the chief’s job was not enough of a change from his 25-year career in the Maine State Police.
A search to find Coleman’s replacement is now under way.
In other business Monday, councilors voted to set the annual stipends at $2,500 for the council chairman and $2,000 each for individual councilors. City ordinance allows for higher stipends (up to $2,700 for the chairman and $2,160 for each councilor), but councilors opted to keep the stipends at the same level they have been in recent years.
Council meetings will continue to be held on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in City Hall, except for December through January, when the meetings will be held on the second Monday of the month.
The third Monday in January is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the third Monday in February is Presidents Day.
Councilor John Moore made the motion to move this year’s December meeting from Dec. 21 to Dec. 14. He said that was due to his own travel plans, but Beathem noted others such as City Hall staffers might also appreciate not having the monthly meeting so close to Christmas.
The six councilors present — Councilor Marc Blanchette was absent — split 5-1 in favor of moving the December meeting to Dec. 14, with Crosthwaite opposed.
Beathem, Blanchette and John Phillips will continue to serve on the Finance Committee, with Moore an alternate member.