BUCKSPORT, Maine — Councilors will meet in executive session on Thursday, March 8, to interview two front-runners for the position of town manager with a goal of filling the position by the end of April.

Mayor David Keene declined to name the two individuals on Wednesday but said they were selected from a pool of more than 30 applicants. Five people were brought in during the first round of interviews and from that group two were selected for a second interview.

“We think either one of these would be very strong,” said Keene, who is chairman of the Town Council.

Councilors thought they had found their new town manager back in November after a months-long search that drew about two dozen applicants. But negotiations failed between the council and the candidate, Brewer City Clerk Howard Kroll. As a result, the council opted to readvertise the position and reopen the search.

Town Manager Roger Raymond announced in July that he planned to retire after more than 25 years with Bucksport. Raymond subsequently agreed to stay on as acting town manager until a replacement was hired, although Keene said Wednesday that Raymond hopes to retire by the end of April.

Council member Byron Vinton III said Wednesday that he was also pleased with the two candidates who will be interviewed this week. The council continues to require that any manager live in Bucksport, he said.

The Town Council will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday after the candidate interviews, however, councilors are not expected to take any public action regarding the town manager search.

Arguably the biggest item on the council’s public agenda is a presentation on the proposed municipal budget and capital improvement plan for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1. Raymond has said he expects the town to face a budget shortfall because of rising school costs, a decrease in tax revenue from the Verso Paper mill and other factors.