Houlton to hire New Mexico man as town manager

3 weeks ago

HOULTON, Maine – After a nearly seven month search, the Houlton Town Council is hiring a town manager, according to Council Chairman Chris Robinson.

Jeremy Smith will move to Houlton from Los Alamos, New Mexico. He is currently the director of community services for the City of Española.

“We are pleased to announce as a council that we are going to be hiring Mr. Jeremy Smith who came to town a couple weeks back,” Robinson said at the end of the council meeting on Monday night.  “We are very pleased with our choice as a council.”

The council will officially approve Smith’s appointment in a special town council meeting at 6 p.m., April 1. Smith’s salary will be $110,000 and his new job with the town begins on April 29, Robinson said.

Smith and his wife have been interested in Maine and Robinson said he is a natural fit.

 “He wants to be vested in the community,” he said.

Before making their final decision, the town flew Smith to Houlton a few weeks ago to meet with the council.

Councilor Jane Torres, who is also the executive director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce said that she was very pleased with Smith’s engagement with the business community during his five-day visit. 

“With no prompting from us, he wandered about town talking to people and getting a feeling for the community,” she said on Tuesday. “I am also happy that he has a strong background covering, not only municipal government, but recreation and community development.”

The Maine Municipal Association assisted the town in the search after town manager Marian Anderson retired after five years in the position for personal reasons at the end of August. And it’s not been an easy task finding the right person for the job.

Robinson said Smith’s application was in the third round of the search after they had already reviewed 40 or 50 applications. 

Police Chief Tim DeLuca has been doubling his duties with the town as interim town manager.  

DeLuca’s interim status was for six months. In addition to his $89,000 police department salary, he was also being paid an hourly rate of $43.38 for his town manager role, according to Torres. The council calculated the amount from the former town manager’s salary of $90,227, she said.

About a month ago, the council decided to change its approach in searching for the right person for the position when they realized there were so many town manager openings throughout the state. 

“There are all these openings and everybody is looking for someone with municipal experience,” Torres said in a previous interview. “We just changed track and said let’s look for that person who can manage people, manage a budget and learn on their feet.”

According to Torres, the council was seeking a person with either public or private sector managerial experience, strong budget and financial management skills, experience in personnel management and labor relations, knowledge of grant preparation and administration, and experience in economic development issues. And that’s when they found Smith.

On Monday night, Robinson said the council felt like Smith will integrate well into the community.

“He’s going to work well with department heads and the employees,” Robinson said. “We have a positive feeling. We made our choice and I think it is a positive choice for Houlton.”