WATERVILLE — The city has advertised widely for an assistant city manager, a new position the City Council approved recently as part of the 2021-22 municipal budget.

The person hired for the full-time position, which has drawn four applicants so far, would support City Manager Steve Daly and be a department head-level supervisory and management job.

Waterville City Manager Stephen Daly Submitted photo

“It would free up the city manager to do more economic development — focus on the future rather than the present, which is what the council hired me to do,” Daly said in an interview. “It would allow me to manage the updating of the comprehensive plan and to work with the Central Maine Growth Council to market Waterville, not just within Maine, but regionally and the northeast and nation as well. Who knows? We might get into international marketing, to get employers to come.”

Daly has been city manager more than seven months, having been hired by the City Council on Jan. 5. He succeeded Michael Roy, who had served in the role 16 years but continued working part-time for the city until June to help oversee an $11.2 million downtown revitalization project.

The council budgeted $88,000 for the assistant city manager’s position, to include salary and benefits, but that number could change when the pay is negotiated, according to Daly.

Asked what having an assistant manager in place would allow Daly to do that he can not do now, he said it would enable him to get out of the office and make connections.

“I can get out into the community and meet and network with a lot of people that I can’t right now because I’m sort of tied to my desk,” he said. “I can put a lot more effort and dedicate time on developing an economic strategic plan. We have to rethink what we’re doing with the airport because the airport is a tremendous asset that is grossly underused and that is sort of the doorway or portal connecting Waterville to the rest of the country. Colby uses the heck out of it, but we don’t.”

The city advertised the assistant city manager position with the Northern New England Municipal Associations which represent Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, as well as the International City Management Association, and the position has been posted on municipal job boards that are listing the job as far away as Texas, according to Daly.

The job description says Waterville has a population of 16,600 and is the service center of the Upper Kennebec River Valley.

“Waterville is a bustling small city experiencing a major cultural and economic renaissance,” it says. “As home to Colby College, one of the country’s leading private small liberal arts colleges, and Thomas College, Maine’s leading business higher education institution, the city presents a blended academic, commercial, and manufacturing economy on the move. With nearly $100 million invested in downtown revitalization, Waterville’s future is bright.”

The assistant city manager, it says, would be responsible for overseeing administrative departments including engineering, planning,  health and welfare, and information technology, and provide leadership in productivity improvement and modernization of systems and processes.

“The position assists the City Manager with research into problems and solutions facing the city and supports department heads in the same manner. It serves an important role in budget development, analysis, information gathering, monitoring and administration. The position is responsible for coordinating the city’s tax increment financing program and grant seeking activities and overseeing their administration. It serves as a liaison between the City Manager and various local, regional, and state programs and projects as well as assigned boards and committees within the city government. It will also take a leadership role in the dissemination of public information.”

While the city manager provides guidance and direction, according to the ad, the assistant city manager position would exercise considerable independent professional judgement and initiative in implementing and administering policies and directing work in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. It would serve to relieve the city manager of administrative duties, the ad says.

“Qualified candidates will have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in public management or a related field with 5-10 years’ experience as an assistant or CAO in a local government of similar size and character. MPA and MBA degreed candidates will be given preference.”

Daly said Thursday that the city’s human resources department is screening applicants and Daly, who would be the one to hire the assistant manager, will share what he was doing in that regard with the council and probably have one-on-one meetings or “quasi-interviews” with some council members and final candidates.

“I think we’re really looking at the first of November,” he said, in response to a question about when the city hopes to have an assistant city manager on board.

OTHER EXPECTED HIRINGS

With Roy gone, City Engineer Andy McPherson has been overseeing the downtown revitalization but right now, no one from the city is interfacing with downtown merchants, according to Daly, who said the city is sort of relying on the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce to stay on top of things and address issues merchants may have.

He cited as a recent example a problem that arose because a contractor had hung banners on construction fences lining the west side of Main Street downtown. That created a safety issue at night because police could not see behind the banners where people would congregate near businesses.

“We were having some patrons fearful of walking behind the banners,” Daly said.

He said McPherson handled the problem and the banners were removed.

On a separate but related topic, the council approved three new positions in the fire department for emergency medical technicians, but only one qualified candidate applied, according to Daly. Fire Chief Shawn Esler did some research and learned Augusta had advertised for the same level of EMTs three times but got no candidates, he said. There are paramedics available who do not want to take lower level jobs, so Waterville wants to post job openings for paramedics, but has not done so yet because it has to have side agreements requiring union contracts, according to Daly.

The city, through advertisements, also has attracted three applicants for a finance department clerk position, two for a fire inspector and one for a code enforcement officer, he said.

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