LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone’s new town manager has never led a municipality before but wants to donate his salary to moving the community forward.

After seven years of management turnover, Limestone’s Select Board voted earlier this month to hire real-estate manager Alvin Lam. Lam, 32, has since finalized a three-year contract with the town and will begin his new job on June 30.

Lam’s hiring raised questions among residents as to whether his $80,000 salary was justified, considering his lack of experience as a town manager. Earlier this year, the Select Board rejected five candidates they deemed not qualified. This time around, they chose Lam over one other candidate. He offered to do the job for free after accepting the position.

There is a caveat. The town accepted Lam’s offer to donate his entire salary, but Lam stipulated the money would support future town-driven initiatives, said Walt Elliot, the town’s interim manager.

“He can decide where he’d like that money to go, with the Select Board’s approval,” Elliot said.

Lam moved to Limestone in 2021 after serving as vice president of lending for GenX Capital, a commercial mortgage company in Portland, and financial director for Able Management, an Auburn-based real estate company.

Real estate investments in multi-family housing and commercial properties in Maine allowed him to sell his portfolio and pay for living expenses from those investments, Lam said. That will allow him to donate his salary to the community.

Admittedly, he has never worked in town government, but sees the manager’s role as his way of giving back to the community he loves, he said.

“My first priority is to listen to what peoples’ wants and needs are and build some short- and long-term goals from there,” Lam said.

Lam grew up in Portland. His parents, Yan and Shelly Lam, met after coming to Portland as refugees in the 1980s from Vietnam and Laos, respectively. Yan and Shelly still live in Portland and both recently retired, Yan from Hannaford and Shelly from Texas Instruments.  

Lam said that witnessing his parents’ work ethic taught him the value of investing in both individual and community success.

He has volunteered for the Limestone Development Foundation, Chamber of Commerce and annual town events. He would like to develop ideas for attracting more local businesses and getting area youth involved in volunteerism and local politics.

“Everyone here has been so welcoming. I have not had a bad experience,” Lam said. “When the opportunity came to serve my community [as town manager], I thought it was a perfect way to make a larger impact.”

Elliot praised Lam’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn about the community.

“Just this morning, I took him around town to introduce him,” Elliot said. “He likes getting involved [with the community], he does his homework and has a sincere desire to be upfront with everyone.”

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect that Lam offered to do the job for free after he accepted the town manager’s position, and that his parents came to Portland in the 1980s.