BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday voted unanimously to hire the Maine Municipal Association to aid with the search for the next town manager.
Before making the decision, the council spent most of its meeting hearing public comment over a proposal to send a letter to the federal government, requesting a deeper environmental study of the proposed location for a train layover facility that would service Amtrak Downeaster trains.
The council, in a 5-4 vote, ultimately denied the request from Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition, a group of abutters that recently won the support of Gov. Paul LePage, who sent his own letter to the Federal Railroad Administration in support of a deeper environmental study.
Discussion of selecting one of three candidates to assist the council in its town manager search, however, took little deliberation and no public input.
MMA, which is offering a $4,900 package to assist with the town’s search and interview process, was chosen above Strategic Talent Management of Brunswick, which was offering services that ranged from $3,500 to $10,000, and Eaton Peabody Consulting Group of Brunswick, which was offering a $5,000 package.
Some councilors expressed interest in the possibility of hiring STM in the future for an assessment of final candidates. According to STM’s proposal, that would cost $650 per candidate.
While the council didn’t fully explain why it chose MMA over the two other candidates, Chairman Benet Pols after the meeting said “there might have been a sentiment that maybe MMA are likely to be the most neutral, being as they have no prior connection to the town.”
Pols was referring to the fact that Art Boulay, who heads STM, is a Brunswick resident, and that Don Gerrish, who led Eaton Peabody’s proposal, was Brunswick’s town manager for 19 years before retiring in 2008. Gerrish was succeeded by former Town Manager Gary Brown, who was dismissed on Feb. 10 after announcing his resignation last December.
“I’ve had some constituents say that they would have had concerns regarding somebody who has a substantial connection not being neutral enough for a process that is inherently political,” Pols said.