DURHAM — The Select Board has hired Gardiner public works manager Jerry Douglass of Brunswick as the new city manager after a month-long search, which included feedback from residents, officials and city workers.
Douglass holds two bachelor’s degrees in public management and parks and recreation from the University of Maine. He has spent the past 20 years working with public and private sector municipalities, including Durham.
“It’s always been one of those goals that I’ve had, to go to a city and lead the city and bring with that my experiences of working with other cities and leaders,” Douglass said. .
He sees the city manager’s most important duty as providing accurate facts and figures to the select committee so they can make “wise decisions” for the city, while emphasizing the importance of communication and transparency as a public official.
Board Chairman Kevin Nadeau said Douglass Command experience and his knowledge of public works – one of Durham’s biggest expenses – made him a strong candidate for the job.
Douglass’ application was one of the few chosen to be interviewed by a temporary committee made up of three residents, three city employees and three board members. He was then interviewed a second time by the entire select committee and hired.
“It was a very good process,” said Nadeau. “Everyone who was involved, I think, felt really good about it because there was such good cross-representation.”
The former and only Durham City Manager, Kathy Tombarelli, resigned from her post in March after 10 months on the job. In a statement, Tombarelli said she felt she was not the right person for the job and that additional and unforeseen family responsibilities had arisen.
The city expects Douglass to start work Aug. 22. Acting City Manager Mitch Berkowitz will stay on for a few weeks to help with the transition, Nadeau said.
SPECIAL TOWN MEETING
The city will hold a special town meeting at the Eureka Center on August 16 at 6 p.m. to seek approval to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to several projects.
Durham received $410,000 following the passage of federal COVID-19 recovery spending legislation. The city is seeking to use a quarter of its allocation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to the municipal office ($34,500) and fire station ($23,230); technology upgrades for the municipal office, fire station and public works ($45,000); and digitizing city tax maps to make them available online ($16,000).
Currently, one of the two municipal office heating units is down and the fire station office is not air conditioned. Doing this work at the same time will be more profitable for the city, Nadeau said.
The budget committee reviewed the proposal this week and unanimously backed the spending, Nadeau said.
If these projects are approved, the city will have approximately $302,000 in ARPA funds remaining. Nadeau said the city plans to hold public hearings over the next few months so residents can voice their opinions on what the funding should be spent on.
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