South Portland taps Gardiner administrator for city manager

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council selected Scott Morelli to be the next city manager.

In a press release Wednesday, the city announced Morelli’s anticipated start date is Monday, March 13. His tentative, three-year contract includes a starting annual salary of $115,000.

Councilors are expected to approve Morelli’s contract at their next meeting on Monday, Feb. 6.

Morelli, who lives in New Gloucester, has been the Gardiner city manager since March 2010. He will step down from that job March 3, after working on Gardiner’s upcoming budget.

He previously served as the executive assistant to the town manager of Framingham, Massachusetts, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University in New York.

Originally from Bangor, Morelli has lived in New Gloucester with his wife, Beth Priest, and their three daughters since 2008.

Morelli will replace Jim Gailey, who held the position for nearly a decade before resigning to become assistant county manager for Cumberland County last July.

The council previously offered the manager’s position to Ed Collins, a Maine native and a University of Maine graduate, who declined the job last November.

After Collins turned down the position, the council removed a residency requirement from the application process.

Interim City Manager Don Gerrish said 33 applications for the city manager position were received, including 10 from Mainers. In the previous search, Gerrish said, there were 23 applicants and only two were from Maine.

The council narrowed the candidates to Morelli and Patrick Venne of Portland, an attorney, project executive with Miami-based developer The Federated Cos. and former town manager of Berwick.

“We are very pleased and excited with the selection of Scott Morelli as our next city manager,” Mayor Patti Smith said. “Scott’s depth of municipal knowledge, level of experience and community-centered accomplishments in the city of Gardiner are impressive and should translate into a smooth transition for Scott and South Portland.”

In its press release, the city said the “selection process was very competitive.”

Although Morelli has no plans to move to South Portland in the near future, he said, “I am committed to not only working in the community, but really being a part of the community and being involved.”

“I think the community has a good vision laid out and they have done a good job tackling some of them, and I look forward to working with the community to help implement their vision to make South Portland a great place to work, live, and come for entertainment, all the things that make up a good community,” Morelli said. “There is a lot of good things on the horizon for South Portland and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Morelli acknowledged he will be jumping into the middle of the budget process and will have to get caught up quickly. He said he plans to meet with Gerrish, Finance Director Greg L’Heureux and Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Director Joshua J. Reny before starting his new position.

Morelli said he wants to talk to as many people as possible – inside and outside of City Hall – and hear any suggestions they may have for him.

“I’m really looking forward to serving the South Portland community and getting to know the residents and businesses,” Morelli said. “My door will always be open, and I invite the community to share their thoughts and ideas with me.”

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Scott Morelli