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Vergennes readies plan to recruit new city manager

VERGENNES — Vergennes Alderman Jeff Fritz, whose tenure as deputy mayor was reconfirmed at the beginning of Tuesday’s city council meeting, updated the council March 27 on plans to find a replacement for City Manager and Zoning Administrator Mel Hawley, who will leave in late July.
Ads will run from April 2 to 16 online, in several publications and through the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. The search committee is seeking candidates with at least five to 10 years of experience and a degree in business and/or public administration.
The projected salary range is $60,000 to $85,000, depending on experience and on whether a candidate takes on the zoning role as well, something that has yet to be determined and might depend on the candidate.
“Is it a one-person job, or is it a two-person job?” said Fritz, the chairman of the search committee.
Fritz said the search committee hopes to find three to five qualified candidates, and that if the first ads do not produce good candidates there would be time to send out a second round even with what he called “a tight schedule.”
At the March 27 meeting, the council also:
•  Heard from Hawley that a high school teacher and student had contacted him about improving the skate park near Vergennes Union Elementary School. Hawley called the skate park “poorly designed” and poorly located and suggested the council visit the site to evaluate its future.
“It is a problem,” he said. “I don’t want to see this continue for another 20 years.”
•  At Hawley’s recommendation, declined to issue a liquor and entertainment license to the City Limits Nightclub, although it did issue other such licenses. Hawley said Police Chief George Merkel was writing a memo regarding the Green Street tavern that Hawley believed the council should see before considering the application, but that it was not ready in time to present to the council before the meeting.
“I would like for you to have an opportunity get the memorandum that is expected from George,” Hawley said, adding, “I have enough info to suggest we hold that (application).”
•  Appointed Carrie MacFarlane, Danelle Birong and Christine Garrow to the planning commission; and re-appointed Chris Bradford as a Bixby Library Trustee and Cheryl Brinkman as the city’s representative on the Addison County Solid Waste Management District board.
•  Waived a $22.10 late fee on a sewer bill for residents whose payment was delayed in the mail.
•  Heard from Hawley that the construction estimate for the long-awaited North Main Street sidewalk extension project came in at $129,000. Including design, engineering and permitting costs that Hawley said the Agency of Transportation had pegged at about $80,000, the VTrans estimate for the project had been $305,000, with a local match of $30,500. “The good news is the project is under budget,” Hawley said. Plans call for the sidewalk to be extended past Kennedy Brothers to the police station.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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