BAILEYVILLE, Maine - He may be new to the municipal government game, but recently hired Town Manager Luke Lazure is an enthusiastic player.
Lazure, 30, who has been on the job a little more than a week, is originally from Lewiston.
This is his first job as a town manager, with a starting salary of $40,000.
Lazure replaces Scott Harriman who resigned in March. Interim Town Manager Dorothy Johnson, who is chairman of the Town Council, had served in the role since Harriman’ s resignation.
Although Lazure is new to municipal government, he has a strong background in finances as a result of his work with a major banking firm as a business analyst. “The Town Council told me that my financial background is something they liked,” he said during an interview Thursday.
But Lazure faces challenges.
For years, this mill town had stable employment opportunities with Washington County’ s largest manufacturing firm, Domtar Inc. But last summer, Montreal-based Domtar shut down its paper machine, leaving 150 people out of work. It continues to operate its pulp business.
As a result, residents likely will have to pay more to live here now that Domtar no longer will pay about 70 percent of the property taxes it once did.
The town has had to look at cuts in services. The town recently put in place a sewer ordinance and, for the first time, Baileyville residents are required to pay sewer bills.
Lazure acknowledged the problems in the town but noted that it was a tough time for the entire state. “There are a lot of economic troubles going on here, but that is a statewide issue, nationwide issue,” he said. He said he plans to tackle the problems one at a time.
A leading issue Down East is economic development. Lazure said that was one of the topics he discussed with the Town Council during his interview.
“My goal is to sit down and plan out for myself exactly what I think can work here and how can we get it here,” he said. “And start the process of doing it … [and] find the people who can help me get those people here.”
Lazure said he was not afraid to ask questions, nor was he afraid to talk with other town managers. He recently had a discussion with Calais City Manager Diane Barnes to talk about common issues.
Lazure’ s wife, Rebecca, soon will join him. Her last day on her job in Portland was Thursday. The couple has a cat they named Moxie.