The city of Rockland is seeking to fill several vacant municipal positions, including its police chief.

The city of Rockland is working to fill several leadership roles in its municipal government, including finding a new police chief.

Rockland’s police chief left the department earlier this month to take a job in the private sector. The departure has added to a list of vacant positions in city government, including other department head vacancies in the city’s public services and assessing departments. Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell attributed the period of turnover, in part, to the difficulty of municipal jobs.

“Municipal jobs, I think in the past, people have desired them. But I think in the last couple of years [or] five years, people have been shying away from municipal jobs,” Luttrell said. “I think it’s just a lot of the demand and being in the public eye all the time. It’s just not that desirable for a lot of people anymore.”

As the city works to fill the vacancies, existing staff have stepped up to fill the roles in the interim.

Rockland Deputy Police Chief Joel Neal has been appointed interim police chief following the departure of former Chief Chris Young. Luttrell said the city is preparing to advertise the position and is surveying officers on what they would like to see in their next chief.

Luttrell was unsure if anyone from within the police department would apply, but he said the city will consider both external and internal candidates.

Following the resignation of former Rockland Public Works Director Kathy Parker in August, Assistant Public Works Director Chris Donlin is serving as the head of the department for the interim.

Currently, the public works department also includes oversight of the city’s transfer station and landfill. But Luttrell said the city might create a separate position for overseeing the waste disposal aspect of public works. The roles were combined in 2014, according to Luttrell, and the city has since seen the departure of two public works directors.

“It’s a lot of work and I think that is one reason there is a lot of burnout in that position,” Luttrell said.  

City officials still have to decide whether the roles will be split, but Luttrell said he hopes to advertise for either one position or two within the next month to start conducting interviews in January.

City officials are also trying to figure out the best way to move forward with hiring an in-house assessor. Rockland’s former assessor left last year and the city has been contracting with KRT Appraisal, an independent assessing firm, in the interim.

Despite advertising for the assessor position, Luttrell said the city has been unable to find a replacement. Luttrell said the city is considering partnering with neighboring towns to share a single assessor.

Rockland’s code department is also down to a single code enforcement officer following the departure of Adam Ackor, the department head, in September. Wyatt Philbrook, who was the assistant code enforcement officer, has assumed the role of the code department’s primary officer.

But the department could soon be growing. The city has been searching for its first in-house planner, and Luttrell said the city has extended an offer to a candidate. City officials have said the planner would work within the code department to help streamline city ordinances and work with potential developers.