HOULTON, Maine — Houlton Town Manager Marian Anderson will retire from her position at the end of the month and the town is in the process of searching for a replacement.
Councilor Jane Torres said Anderson will be a hard act to follow.
Anderson has a long history of service to towns in Maine, including Wiscasset and Richmond in addition to Houlton. She was hired for Houlton in early 2019 from a pool of 21 candidates and replaced William MacDonald, who left his position abruptly after nine months as town manager.
Before coming to Houlton, Anderson had the longest tenure of any town manager in Wiscasset. Her time on the job in both Wiscasset and Houlton is a rarity these days, especially in The County where town manager positions have turned over rapidly. The towns of Reed Plantation, Patten, Fort Fairfield and Limestone have all recently hired new town managers.
Patten was almost four years without a permanent manager at the helm and Limestone went through 11 town managers in seven years. In June they hired Alvin Lam, a former real estate manager, who said he will donate his entire $80,000 salary back to the town.
Anderson will leave her position on Aug. 30, but she said she will help out the town as long as possible. An interim town manager will be in place at the end of the month, Torres said.
Under Anderson’s leadership, the town has endured COVID-19, multiple personnel changes and a sometimes-challenging budget, but she met all of these head-on, Torres said.
“We will certainly miss her approachability, her graceful attitude and her wisdom. We can only hope that our next town manager has the experience and the appreciation of small town life that is so necessary for success,” she said.
Houlton has a current budget of approximately $12.3 million and 60 municipal employees, according to the position description.
The council is seeking a person with strong budget and financial management skills, experience in personnel management and labor relations, knowledge of grant preparation and administration, and demonstrated experience in economic development issues.
The town council has contracted with Maine Municipal Association, which will vet candidates based on the town’s needs before the council interviews them, Torres said.
The Maine Municipal Association also provides a specific list of questions for councilors to ask and a consultant to sit in on the interviews in a non-voting capacity, she said.
“It’s a carefully orchestrated process,” Torres said. “I believe we have a good town council that will make the right decision for our community.”
When Anderson moved to Houlton almost five years ago, she said she was excited about making the town home. She attended most special events and always kept town council meetings informative and inviting. “Houlton is a wonderful community. The council is second to none,” Anderson said on Wednesday. “The department team leaders and staff members are exceptional, so the incoming manager will have a great team to work alongside them.”