Cape Elizabeth code changes streamline town departments

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The town has updated the administrative code outlining its departmental structure, streamlining town departments by reducing them from 11 to eight.

This is the first change to the code since 1993.

The Town Council adopted the change July 13 after modifying Town Manager Michael McGovern’s original proposal, which reduced the number of departments to seven. The adopted code does not include McGovern’s original proposal to have the town’s building inspector report to the town planner.

Originally, McGovern had hoped to combine the Building and Inspection Department and the town planner position under the leadership of the town planner, since all those and the Assessing Department already operate out of a single small office.

“Internal aspects of this office have been a challenge at times,” according to a June 8 memo from McGovern to the council, since several people serve as supervisors “with no clear lines of authority.”

Because of some concern over what could be perceived as the diminished authority of the building inspector, McGovern included language stating that “no department head may overrule any statutory officer or municipal official on a lawful decision made by their office … unless the department head is specifically authorized to do so in an applicable ordinance or statute.”

But the council was not convinced, so on June 8 tabled the decision to July 13, when it adopted the slightly larger number of departments based on consensus reached at a June 27 workshop that the planning and codes offices should remain separate.

Other changes in the administrative code include:

• The Administrative, Finance, and Records departments have been combined into a single Administrative Services Department headed by the town clerk.

• The Legal Department is no longer included, since the attorney position is provided for in the Town Charter.

• The Department of Emergency Preparedness is no longer a separate department, but instead is incorporated into the Fire Department.

Other changes were made to update “a number of changes that have taken place without formal change in the code,” according to the June 8 memo. Of these changes, McGovern said the most significant is that Fire Department officers are no longer elected. The change to fire chief appointments was made earlier this year by the department, and is now reflected in the code.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or