South Portland hires new assessor, parks director

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city has hired a new tax assessor and a new parks, recreation and waterfront director. 

City Manager Jim Gailey last week announced Kevin Adams would fill the parks-and-rec position previously held by Rick Towle, who resigned late last year.

Towle resigned suddenly after complaints were lodged against him, and an internal investigation by the Human Resources Department. Parks Operations Manager Sarah Neuts has been acting director since December.

Adams, a South Portland native, has worked in the department since 1998, when he became a recreation programmer. He was promoted to recreation coordinator in 2008 and, in 2014, became the senior leisure services manager, where his responsibilities included managing the community center and the municipal golf course.

“Over the past 17 years, I never thought this opportunity, in this community, would open for me,” Adams said in an email Wednesday. “I always thought that to reach my goal of leading a parks and recreation department, it would have to be in another community. But things kind of shook out and, all of the sudden, I found this position open at the right time for me.”

Adams said he is “very excited” to have this opportunity, and that the “most challenging” part of the new job will be “trying to meet the expectations of the residents (in) the community.” 

“I feel that I have been involved with many great programs and facilities, and worked with many great people in the department and community, over the years, and it was time for me to give back to the community at the next level,” he said.  

Adams was certified as a Parks and Recreation Professional by the National Recreation and Parks Association, and named a certified Youth Sports Administrator by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. Adams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and recreation management from Jacksonville University in Florida.

His starting salary is almost $78,000, and his first day on the job was Monday, March 14.

Assessor

The hiring of Jim Thomas as the next city assessor was announced to city staff on Tuesday. He’s slated to begin April 15.

Thomas, of Cumberland, joins the city from Saco, where he has been the city assessor for the last three years. He was previously the assessor for Freeport for three years and worked for six years as Gray’s assessor. Thomas has been a certified Maine Assessor since 1991. 

Additionally, he does independent geographic informational system mapping, assessing and consulting work for towns across southern Maine, through his business, GIS Services, Thomas said Wednesday by phone. 

The previous assessor, Elizabeth Sawyer, who held the position for three decades, retired in early January.

The city’s assessor position is shared with Westbrook, where Thomas was raised. 

Approximately $17,500 of his more than $95,000 starting salary will be paid by Westbrook, City Manager Jim Gailey said Thursday.

“I’m very excited about the challenge,” Thomas said about joining South Portland. “I’m joining a terrific staff, (and) it’ll be nice also to return home to (work for) Westbrook.”

Thomas holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in computer science from Andover College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Maine, and a master’s degree from the University of Maine in public policy and management. 

He is currently seeking his doctorate from the University of Maine in spatial information engineering.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Kevin Adams is South Portland’s new parks, recreation and waterfront director. Adams has been with the department since 1998.

Jim Thomas is the new assessor for South Portland.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.
  • MCHaye

    Why does Westbrook pay such a small portion of the assessor’s salary?