North Yarmouth selectmen send reduced budget to Town Meeting, will search for new town manager

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday unanimously approved a $2.4 million fiscal 2015 municipal budget, down slightly from this year.

Residents will vote on the spending plan at Town Meeting on Saturday, April 12.

The board also voted, 4-1, with Clark Whittier opposed, to advertise for applicants for a new town manager.

Marnie Diffin, who has worked for the town for four years, is serving as interim manager for the current fiscal year. Voters adopted a revised Town Charter last June that requires the administrative assistant, Diffin’s former role, to be replaced by a town manager.

Whittier, who favored Diffin being hired as manager, said “she’s met the criteria. In the last year we’ve had so many balls up in the air; I don’t want to break in somebody new.”

Selectman Mark Girard, who made the motion to post the position, cited the significance of the job within the town infrastructure.

“Although I very much hope that Marnie will be looking to apply for the position, I think we owe it to the town, to the taxpayers, to look at and try to secure the most appropriate and the most competent person that we can,” Girard said. “And none of that is in any way disparaging as to whether or not our current interim town manager would be that person.”

Chairman Steve Palmer also said he hopes Diffin will apply for the job.

“But I do believe that we need to open it up to the possibilities of other people applying for it,” Palmer said, “… allowing us to make sure that we don’t already have the best person for the job.”

The proposed budget – which does not take into account Cumberland County and School Administrative District 51 assessments – is down 0.1 percent from the current year.

The funding  from taxes would decrease 5.5 percent, from about $926,000 this year to nearly $876,000 next year.

Due to the destruction by fire last August of Wescustogo Hall, the traditional Town Meeting location, this year’s gathering will be held in the North Yarmouth Memorial School gym.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.