Bar Harbor has hired a new town manager. The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to sign a 3-year contract with former Saco city administrator Kevin Sutherland.

Prior to working as Saco’s city administrator from 2015 through 2019, Sutherland was the chief of staff for Ithaca, New York. Sutherland has a Master of Science in Public Administration from Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts from State University of New York Oswego, according to Bar Harbor officials.

Sutherland was the lone finalist for the job. He visited Bar Harbor earlier this month, meeting with local residents and town officials, according to the Mount Desert Islander newspaper. Since leaving his job in Saco, Sutherland has worked for a contractor in community development, the Islander reported.

According to a copy of Sutherland’s employment contract with the town, he is expected to start work on Jan. 3, 2022, and will be paid $115,000 per year, which will increase to $117,500 after he successfully completes his first 6 months on the job.

Contact information for Sutherland was unavailable Wednesday.

Jeff Dobbs, chairman of the town council, said Wednesday that 15 people applied for the job. There was another finalist for the position who withdrew from consideration, Dobbs said, but Sutherland was always his top pick.

“He knows Bar Harbor and he likes Bar Harbor,” Dobbs said. “He’s just a smart guy. He studied Bar Harbor before he came up for his first interview.”

Dobbs said other councilors also had a good impression of Sutherland from his two interviews, and the town’s department heads also liked him. Sutherland is aware of many of the issues facing the town, such as how to balance the heavy volume of tourist traffic in the summer with the desire to make sure Bar Harbor remains an affordable, vibrant year-round community for local residents.

“Not one person on the council had anything bad to say about him,” Dobbs said. “He’s willing to jump right in. He’s unafraid.”

Sutherland will take over the position from Cornell Knight, who has been Bar Harbor’s town manager for seven years. He will be only the third town manager Bar Harbor has had since 1986, when the town hired Dana Reed for the position. Reed held the post until 2014, the same year Knight was hired, and since then has worked stints as the top municipal administrator in other Mount Desert Island towns, first in Tremont and currently in Southwest Harbor.

Knight, who is retiring, will leave his job in Bar Harbor in January. He has held a variety of similar positions over the past 40 years, including top municipal administrator posts in Baileyville, Hallowell, Jay, Winthrop and Topsham.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....