December 31, 2013

Skowhegan selectman to begin search for new town manager

John Doucette Jr. is retiring from the job early, leaving Feb. 28.

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — The process of hiring a new town manger will get started when the Board of Selectmen meets in executive session next Wednesday.

Town Manager John Doucette Jr. announced his retirement earlier this month after five years on the job.

Christine Almand, Skowhegan’s human resource director, said selectmen will make the decision on how to proceed with the hiring process at the Jan. 8 non-public meeting. She said the last time the town replaced a town manager, it took two and a half months.

Doucette, 62, started work as Skowhegan town manager in July 2008, taking over for Philip Tarr, whose contract was not renewed by selectmen.

Doucette’s contract is through December 2014, but he will leave on Feb. 28. Doucette said this week that he has spent 40 years in public service and it was time for a break. He would not elaborate on why he’s retiring early.

He said he would likely not participate in finding a new town manager.

Betty Austin, chairwoman of the Skowhegan Board of Selectmen, said Doucette’s retirement came as a surprise and that he had given no indication that he was thinking about retiring early. Austin said there is no penalty in Doucette’s contract with the town for retiring before the end of the agreement.

Almand said discussion on the salary of the new town manager has not yet begun. Doucette was hired in 2008 at an annual salary of $63,000.

Almand said a hiring committee was appointed the last time the town had a vacancy in the town manager’s position. In Skowhegan, the manager oversees about 60 employees and a $8.8 million annual budget, not including schools and the county budget. The hiring committee in 2008 was 10 members — five selectmen, four members of the public and Almand.

The committee received 16 applications and six of them were interviewed, according to Almand. Doucette was signed in June of that year.

Doucette’s replacement must have five to 10 years of municipal management experience.

The Skowhegan town manager’s job description includes:

• carrying out the directives of the Board of Selectmen;

• attending meetings of the Board of Selectmen, providing notices, preparing agendas and providing supporting documents and information related to agenda items, records and meeting;

• identifying needed programs for recommendations to the Board of Selectmen;

• attending meetings and conventions on behalf of the town;

• processing community complaints;

• developing and implementing administrative policies and procedures; and

• supervising the job performance of all departments.

The town manager also organizes and prepares warrants for the annual town meeting and any special town meetings and is responsible for printing the town’s annual report. He or she also will be the town’s purchasing agent and tax collector and must be certified by the Maine State Tax Collectors’ and Treasurers’ Association or be able to obtain the certification within a reasonable length of time.

Unlike some other area communities, Skowhegan has its own elected road commissioner and town clerk, so those are not duties of the town manager.

Selectmen agreed to a three-year contract for Doucette in 2012 with a pay raise to an annual salary of $66,837. He also was granted a fourth week of vacation at the time.

Doucette is also a former town manager in Norridgewock, a position from which he resigned in May 2008.

He was a selectman in Norridgewock in the 1990s. Doucette served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, including 14 years as a recruiter throughout New England, five and a half years of which were spent in Waterville.

Before taking the job in Norridgewock, Doucette was manager of VIP Auto Center in Skowhegan.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367dharlow@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Doug_Harlow
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