Wayne and Readfield officials are looking to find a joint code enforcement and plumbing inspector, a position that has been difficult to fill and retain.

The towns’ struggle to keep someone in the position is reflective of a statewide issue, according to Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association.

Conrad said MMA started its Hometown Careers initiative in 2018 to attract candidates to municipal work and curb a trend of retiring municipal workers and a shrinking pipeline that pushes people into crucial positions.

Readfield Town Manager Eric Dyer said the previous code enforcement officer was recruited by a larger community, and candidates are sometimes drawn to positions in the construction industry, which has been healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dyer said the two towns have been combining duties for a code enforcement officer for about eight months. That position was filled until about two months ago, when Jaime Hanson left to work for the town of China.

According to an emailed notice, the position offers a 32- to 36-hour workweek, meaning a minimum of 16 hours a week in each town. The position also brings full-time benefits, including health insurance, paid time off and a retirement plan. Dyer said the pay range would be $25 to $30 an hour, based on qualifications.

He said the position was a part-time job, varying in hours from week to week. Combining the job with Wayne, Dyer said, would allow the towns to offer better pay and a more attractive benefits package.

“We matched our schedule up and worked out the days of the week,” he said. “It worked out really well for the six months we did it.”

Finding qualified candidates, Dyer said, is proving difficult. He said code enforcement is a specialized field, given the many required certifications.

“It’s the same issue many towns are facing, with people retiring out of municipal government and not having the same pipeline that’s been there in the past,” Dyer said.

Further, he said, the construction industry and other municipalities offering good jobs is attracting would-be code enforcement candidates.

In October, the Portland Press Herald reported that Maine’s construction industry remained strong during the pandemic.

“No one fired their code enforcement officer because of COVID,” Dyer said. “There’s more demand in construction. We’re just being outcompeted.”

Conrad said code enforcement work is “not glamorous,” and also presents difficulties in finding qualified applicants because of the knowledge and training needed to do the job. He said the jobs often go to plumbers, electricians or firefighters, due to an overlap in knowledge needed for those positions.

“It’s so important to have people out there that know building codes,” Conrad said. “It’s not something you can just automatically start in.”

He said the Hometown Careers program started as an effort to get younger people to apply for municipal jobs. Another issue for smaller communities, Conrad said, is retaining younger or mid-career professionals, who are often recruited away by larger municipalities.

“(There is) this demographic trend of Maine, being an older state, and people are retiring quicker than younger people entering the workforce,” he said. “A lot of people in municipal government are retiring or getting ready to retire.”

In Wayne, the code enforcement duties are being handled by Town Manager Aaron Chrostowsky, while Clif Buuck, the former code enforcement officer in Readfield, has stepped into the position on an interim basis.

Buuck, 74, said code enforcement work is a great career. He said the position in Readfield was part time, but eventually evolved into full-time work that involved working with the Planning Board and writing grant applications.

Conrad said he applauded towns for forming partnerships to help fill positions. He said the trend of being unable to fill positions reaches into other municipal offices, including tax assessors and town treasurers.

Applications for the joint code enforcement and plumbing inspector can be dropped off or mailed to the Wayne Town Office or Readfield Town Office, or submitted by email.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.