Blue Hill plans to hire a professional administrator to run town operations and oversee municipal employees for the first time in recent memory.
The Board of Selectmen is working with the Maine Municipal Association to finalize a job description for the administrator’s position after residents voted in favor of creating it at their recent town meeting.
The board opted to pursue hiring a new administrator with the retirement of longtime Selectman Jim Schatz, who has served on the board for 24 years and could often be found at the town hall during selectmen’s office hours. Having part-time selectmen in effect directly overseeing the town’s full-time workers was antiquated, said Schatz and Vaughn Leach, another selectman.
“What we realized over the years was that the managing of a town like Blue Hill has become very complicated for various reasons,” Schatz said. “Whether it’s the new technology or our position as a service-center town that needs to be addressed, there are things that a part-time board just cannot get to.”
Once upon a time, Schatz said, the Board of Selectmen could handle a late-night snowstorm by waiting until morning to dispatch the town’s plow trucks to clear the roads. With the town’s growth and increased out-of-town traffic, trucks now need to start plowing as soon as possible, he said.
“And people are used to government providing more and more services and having those services integrated,” Schatz said.
It is unclear whether the position will be full or part time, Leach said.
“I think the town could use an administrator,” he said. “I had my doubts whether we definitely have to have someone full time, but some people feel that candidate selection process might be better with a full-time job. You never know.”
In addition to creating the administrator position, Blue Hill voters approved borrowing $4 million for road work at their April 6 town meeting.
The 33 miles of local roads will be reviewed and “brought up to a standard,” Leach said, depending on what they need. Many town roads have washouts, ruts from bad drainage and frost heaves.
“The roads are deteriorating faster than they can be repaired,” Leach said.