ROCKPORT, Maine — The Rockport Select Board unanimously voted Monday night to hire a Camden man as its next town manager.

Richard Bates begins his new job immediately. The employment agreement calls for a three-year contract with an annual salary starting at $80,000.

“This is a dream job for me,” Bates said after he signed the employment agreement at the Select Board meeting.

“I’m a sailor and midcoast Maine is a sailor’s heaven. Rockport has a working waterfront and the most beautiful place on the planet,” Bates said.

A native of Weymouth, Mass., Bates has spent much of the past 40 years working in New Hampshire. He started working in the Raymond, N.H., parks and recreation department in 1977 and became its town manager in 2000 and stayed in that post until 2007.

Since 2007, he has worked with Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith, N.H., as a senior consultant. He has served as interim town manager for Sabattus, Maine, for a year and a half and more than two years as interim town manager in Milton, N.H.

He has lived in Camden for three years.

Bates said he learned a lot doing the consulting work but he missed the connection with the people that he had when he was more than an interim town manager.

The town has been searching for a town manager since Robert Peabody resigned in February for undisclosed reasons.

Former Camden Town Manager Roger Moody has served as interim town manager for Rockport since Peabody’s departure. The Select Board praised Moody for his work that including hiring two department heads — fire chief and planner, development of the town budget and working on an emergency medical services contract.

Thirty people applied for the job and seven were finalists.