Harpswell extends contract with town planner

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HARPSWELL — The Board of Selectmen has agreed to extend its contract with  Town Planner Mark Eyerman for another year.

Eyerman is the husband of former Town Planner Carol Eyerman, who left in March to become assistant town planner in Topsham. He is also president of the Portland-based firm Planning Decisions.

Harpswell has been without a full-time planner since Carol Eyerman’s departure.

The town hired Mark Eyerman and Planning Decisions last June after several boards expressed dissatisfaction with the interim services being purchased from the Midcoast Council of Governments.

The original contract was for three-month term, at $100 an hour.

The new contract, presented by Town Administrator Kristi Eiane at the Jan. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting, would extend Planning Decision’s services through June 30. The rate would be $100 an hour for approximately 10 hours a week, according to the contract.

After June 30, the town would contract with Eyerman in an individual capacity for the rest of the year, at $60 an hour for an estimated 20 hours of work per week.

In an interview Monday, Eiane said this structure allows the town flexibility: “We’re still feeling out this relationship of having a contract planner, and figuring out how many hours we need a week,” she said.

The total budgeted amount for contracted service in 2016 is $58,400.

Harpswell budgeted more than $57,800 in 2015 for its full-time planner, not including benefits. In 2014, the town budgeted more than $56,300.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Selectman Elinor Multer said she believes the trade-off for fewer hours is worth it.

“(Eyerman) is a particularly excellent planner,” she said. “The time that he has spent with us over the past weeks and months, working with the committees, with the board of selectmen … everyone’s been pretty happy with the results.”

Selectmen voted unanimously Jan 7. to extend the contract. After the meeting, Eiane said there is potential for hiring Eyerman again in 2017 at a lower cost.

“We are not looking for another in-house planner at this point,” Multer said.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Planning Decisions President Mark Eyerman