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UPDATE: Portland's new city manager to start work July 20

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UPDATE: Portland's new city manager to start work July 20

PORTLAND — The Board of Selectmen in North Andover, Mass., has cleared the way for Mark Rees to become Portland's city manager in July.

North Andover board Chairman Daniel P. Lanen last week said selectmen unanimously granted Rees' request that they waive a 90-day notice requirement for the town manager to leave his job.

Rees' last day of work North Andover will be Thursday. He was originally expected to start in Portland no later than Sept. 1. After the action in North Andover, he'll start July 20, Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones announced Monday.

Rees has been town manager in North Andover for 11 years.

"He's done a fine job," Lanen said. "We didn't want to lose him, but we didn't want to hold him back either from his career ambitions to be a small-city manager."

Rees has a three-year contract with Portland and previously said in an email that if the waiver were granted, he would likely start work in Portland sometime in July.

When he does, he will be managing a municipality about twice as large as the one he is leaving.

Portland has a population of more than 66,000 and an operating budget of $202 million. North Andover has 30,000 people and an operating budget of $86 million.

North Andover is governed by a five-member board of selectman, an appointed town manager and an annual Town Meeting. Portland is preparing to have its first popularly elected mayor in more than 80 years, who will draw a $66,000 annual salary and set the agenda for the city manger and nine-member City Council.

Rees, 55, will receive $143,000 annually and a $450 monthly vehicle stipend. The city will provide up to $10,000 for moving costs and he must become a permanent resident of the city within 15 months of starting work.

Rees will replace Joseph Gray, a city employee of 40 years, who held Portland's top administrative post for 10 years.

Prior to becoming North Andover's town manager, Rees was the chief financial officer for Framingham, Mass., which has an operating budget of $145 million.

There, he developed the town's first five-year capital budget and financial forecast and was credited with reversing three years of operating deficits.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.

This report was updated on Monday, June 27, 2011.