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NORTH YARMOUTH — In a meeting that lasted only three minutes Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously hired Rosemary Roy of Poland as the town’s first manager.
Roy worked for the town of Poland from 1991 through this February. She served the last seven years as an assistant town manager, interim manager and town manager, but spent almost the last four months of her employment on paid administrative leave for what Poland selectmen described as “personnel reasons.”
Roy replaces interim Manager Marnie Diffin, who started with North Yarmouth in 2009 as an administrative assistant and became interim manager a year ago, after voters had adopted a revised Town Charter that required the administrative assistant to be replaced by a town manager.
Diffin said she had applied to be the permanent manager, but did not get an interview. She declined to discuss the matter further.
More than 40 people applied for the job, and the Maine Municipal Association whittled that group down to 19; the Board of Selectmen interviewed four, according to Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve Palmer. He would not confirm that Diffin had applied, or if she had, why she was not considered.
Selectman Mark Girard said the process produced several qualified candidates. “We were fortunate enough to have a good selection,” he said.
“I thought, of the finalists, (Roy) was definitely the best, because she’s done everything,” Selectman Clark Whittier said. “She seemed more of a fit for the size town that we have. … She’s also done very complicated (tax increment financing) work in Poland. … She’s learned everything from the ground up over 22 years.”
From what the board has learned from her, Whittier said, “anything that she’s tackled, she’s really done it well.”
Roy said North Yarmouth’s character attracted her to the job. “It just seemed like a perfect fit,” she said Tuesday night.
Roy noted that not only does she know about how many town departments run – including code enforcement, general assistance, the Planning Board, town clerk and tax collector, recreation and public works – she has also been involved with them.
“I’ve held about every title you could possibly hold, except for assessor,” she said.
Poland selectmen voted unanimously last October to place Roy on administrative leave with pay, pending a contract status review, according their minutes. One selectman said the board had decided unanimously “to not renew her contract and they felt that she deserved the decency of the Board to tell her that now rather than wait,” according to the minutes of Oct. 15, 2013.
Other board members said the decision was based on “personnel reasons that were discussed in executive session that couldn’t be discussed in open session.” The minutes also said Roy’s leave could last until Feb. 2 of this year.
The decision sparked a movement to recall members of the Poland Board of Selectmen, by people who felt the board had acted improperly, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported last December.
Roy said her separation agreement prohibits her and the selectmen involved from discussing the end of her employment with Poland.
“There was nothing illegal, or anything like that,” she said, noting that when the selectmen announced their decision, they commended her for her two decades of service to Poland.
Palmer, the North Yarmouth board chairman, said “you’ve got to go with what information you have that’s in front of you, and (do) the best you can do in making the right judgment,” Palmer said. “… We felt pretty comfortable with (Roy). … The background check was extraordinary.”
Her praised her communication, organizational and information-gathering skills, and described her as a team player.
“I think she’s going to be fine,” he said. “I think she’ll be good for North Yarmouth.”
Roy, 53, is married and has six children and 10 grandchildren. She said she plans to commute to North Yarmouth from Poland.
Among accomplishments Roy listed on her resume were “(b)ringing Poland’s negative fund balance to a now positive balance of 75% operational expense,” and being “(d)irectly involved in the town’s establishment and continued progress of economic development to include a comprehensive knowledge of the town’s largest development projects which include company expansions, shopping centers, water and sewer lines,” as well as the management of tax increment financing districts.
Palmer on Tuesday would not disclose Roy’s salary because her contract has not been signed. She is scheduled to start work on Friday, June 27. Diffin’s final day is scheduled for the following Monday, June 30.
After Tuesday’s vote, Palmer read Diffin a letter of thanks, signed by the full board, for her work with the town.
“During your tenure here, we have appreciated your substantive accomplishments that have improved the manner in which the town operates,” Palmer said. “Your serious and thoughtful commitment to insuring that we could be better was demonstrated in many ways, including the complete revision of the personnel policy and improvement to capital equipment funding.”
“… You have worked tirelessly and faithfully executing your responsibilities,” the letter concluded. “We are grateful for your work. We wish the best for you.”