MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town Council members expect to hire a temporary replacement for departing Town Manager Eugene Conlogue on Friday, Chairman John Davis said Thursday.
Councilors voted 4-2 to accept Conlogue’s resignation, 7-0 to extend his contract to his Oct. 5 departure date and 6-0 to hire Maine Municipal Association for $4,900 to help find his permanent successor. Councilors Gilda Stratton and John Raymond voted against accepting the resignation and Councilor Jimmy Busque left the meeting early.
Councilors praised Conlogue’s capable, steady leadership. They said that Houlton, where Conlogue will become town manager on Oct. 15, is getting a good, experienced worker.
“When Gene came to us 13 years ago, the town was basically, literally broke,” Councilor Jimmy Busque said. “We have gone through some tough times. Through those years Gene has made us very financially stable with a healthy surplus every year since I have been here.
“I think the town will miss him. I think the town has lost a great manager,” Busque said.
“Every time I dealt with him, he was professional,” Councilor Gilda Stratton said. “I hate to see him go.”
Davis and Councilor Michael Madore said Conlogue taught them a lot about town government.
“You were professional, informative and you were a good tutor to keep me from saying things that were amiss. I appreciate that very much. … You are not only a good manager, but you are a good person, and those two qualities are very hard to find in the same person,” Councilor Michael Madore said.
“The only thing he never taught you,” Davis joked with the loquacious Madore, “was the Reader’s Digest version.”
Conlogue, a Houlton native, will succeed Doug Hazlett, who resigned as Houlton’s town manager in March after seven years. Houlton’s Town Council voted unanimously Monday to hire him. Conlogue will be paid $78,000 in his new position during his six-month probation. He said his salary will rise to $80,000 annually, equaling his Millinocket pay, if he completes his probation successfully.
Conlogue said he was grateful and proud to have worked in Millinocket and served its people. He said he felt it was time to move on because he feared growing stale after 13 years.
Unmentioned during the meeting were earlier statements from councilors that some of them felt overshadowed by Conlogue and they felt that ideas they wanted pursued got dropped. Conlogue maintained that he was a dutiful soldier who carried out his assignments.
Several residents also spoke well of Conlogue. Former Town Councilor Money McGibbon praised Conlogue for his astute grasp of financial matters and professionalism. Residents and councilors, she said, don’t know how good they had it with Conlogue as town manager and won’t realize that until he is gone.
Councilors interviewed three candidates for the interim town manager job before Monday’s meeting. Davis will make an offer to a candidate by Friday afternoon, he said.