Brewer’s new assistant city manager left same post 20 months ago

James Smith
Stephen Betts
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Posted Dec. 20, 2013, at 3:30 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 20, 2013, at 5:19 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — When the city posted the help wanted advertisement to replace Assistant Manager Andrew Varisco, City Manager Steve Bost said he never expected to hear from the man who previously held the job.

James Smith, who left Brewer when he was hired as Rockland ’s city manager 20 months ago, resigned his post on the coast Thursday to return to his former job. He is leaving an $80,000-a-year job for one that pays approximately $70,000.

“He contacted us,” Bost said. “He had learned through the Bangor Daily News advertisement that we were hiring and wanted to know if he put in an application, would we look at it.”

“Absolutely,” was the response, the city manager said.

“Jim was a member of the Brewer team for more than five years and earned the trust of the council as well as the various departments in the city. He’s very talented and we look forward to having him back.”

Varisco was terminated about a month ago, the city manager said, declining to provide more specific details.

Smith is a Maine native. He served 10 years in the Marine Corps, including several overseas posts. He then attended the University of Maine, earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He served one year as town manager of the Aroostook County town of Oakfield before taking the Brewer post in 2007.

Smith said his final day on the job in Rockland would be Jan. 18.

In a resignation letter sent to members of the Rockland City Council on Thursday morning, Smith explained that returning to Brewer would allow “my family to be closer to friends and relatives, an aspect they have greatly missed.”

Once back on the job in Brewer, the former assistant city manager will get his old duties back and more, Bost said.

“We’re going to move community development projects from economic development over to him,” the city manager said. “He’ll be doing more grant writing and oversee housing issues.”

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