GARDINER — If the city manager selection process proceeds on schedule, it could take four months, but a number of factors could extend that timeline.

On Wednesday, the Gardiner City Council agreed to hire David Barrett, director of personnel services for the Maine Municipal Association, to conduct it, and Barrett reviewed the process for the elected officials.

Barrett cautioned that finding a candidate could take longer because of changes in the employment market for municipal executives.

“The university (of Southern Maine) is not as robust as it once was in cranking out graduates,” he said.

And the last seven or eight years have not been great years for cities and towns.

“It hasn’t been building recreation centers and rail trails,” Barrett said. “It’s been figuring out how to do more with less.”

At the same time, the demographics of the state’s workforce have been changing, skewing older, he said.

All of that means that candidate pools are smaller than they once were. A city manager search attracted 100 resumes even a decade ago, but the response level has dropped.

City councilors weighed in on the skills and attributes they would like to see in candidates, and they include someone who can carry out Gardiner’s vision, one that’s been developed with community input over a number of years.

“We’re not looking for a new vision,” District 2 City Councilor Pat Hart said.

Mayor Thom Harnett said Gardiner’s projects — the Cobbossee Trail project, the T.W. Dick redevelopment and economic development both downtown and across Gardiner — will require someone will skills to see them through.

“We want someone with long-term vision,” he said.

Barrett’s next task will be to draft an advertisement for the position, which city elected officials will have the chance to review before it is released.

The ad, which will run online and locally, will run for a month. After that, Barrett said, he’ll compile resumes for review.

The last time city officials hired a city manager, which was when Scott Morelli was hired seven years ago, the search took 10 months.

Morelli is taking the city manager’s position in South Portland, which required two searches to fill.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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