Michael Roy, Waterville’s first city manager, poses for a portrait April 18, 2019, at his office at City Hall. Roy’s planned retirement at the end of this year may extend into 2021 because of delays in hiring his replacement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The search for a new city manager has slowed a bit because of difficulties with setting up travel and face-to-face interviews with candidates during the coronavirus pandemic.

City Manager Michael Roy said the original plan was to select a new city manager by Nov. 1 and have that person start working for the city Dec. 1.

“It looks like that schedule is going to be pushed back by maybe as much as a month,” Roy said Friday. “So, the council is preparing for formal interviews.”

Roy, who has been city manager for more than 15 years, announced at an April 16 City Council meeting last year that he planned to retire at the end of this year. The council that night voted to extend his contract another year.

A city manager search committee that includes councilors, staff and others has been working on the effort. The city also hired a consultant to help manage the search.

Seventy people applied for the position and that number was reduced to 30, then 10, and now six, according to Roy.

He said the candidates are from both within Maine and out of state.

He said that, because of pandemic difficulties, the date of his planned Dec. 31 retirement could change somewhat.

“Some interviews have been conducted and now the council is moving into a second interview stage,” Roy said. “I think with the schedule being pushed back a month, that Dec. 31 date is a little up in the air right now. Technically, it’s Dec. 31 but I think there should be some overlap. It depends on how soon the new person could get here.”

The council on Sept. 1 voted to appoint a manager search committee and Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, abstained from voting. He confirmed after that meeting that he had applied for the job.

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