Kittery council: Town manager has ‘righted the ship’

Taken from an article in the Portsmouth Herald.

Kittery council: Town manager has ‘righted the ship’
July 02, 2014 2:00 AM

good-jobKITTERY, Maine — Seven months after Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff started her duties, the Town Council pronounced itself very pleased with her performance so far, said Chairman Jeff Thomson.

The council met in executive session Monday night to evaluate Colbert Puff, as required under terms of her three-year contract with the town.

Thomson said Colbert Puff came to Kittery at a time of turmoil. In December 2012, both the police chief and town manager submitted their resignations under controversial circumstances. Until Colbert Puff was hired in November, Town Clerk Maryann Place also held down the manager’s position.

“She basically walked into the equivalent of Europe after World War II, in many respects,” Thomson said. “She had to develop her own Marshall Plan and I think she’s doing that.”

Colbert Puff was hired in November 2013 at a salary of $105,000. At that time, she signed a three-year contract, with the compensation for the remaining two years negotiable based on job performance.

Thomson said councilors overall expressed satisfaction with her work at the meeting Monday. She brought in a budget for fiscal year 2015 that was 1.7 percent more than this fiscal year’s, which was “within our financial parameters.”

He said she has a good working relationship with Eliot Town Manager Dana Lee, as the two towns work to find ways to regionalize services — something he thinks is vital “to get a handle on some of our costs.”

The council also feels Colbert Puff has developed a “good working relationship with other department heads.” And councilors were particularly pleased that she is “responding to citizens’ concerns and questions very well.”

Thomson credits Colbert Puff with working with community groups, for instance, in getting a dialogue going on Kittery Foreside. Councilors also appreciate that she doesn’t speak off the cuff. If they raise questions, she’s “measured in her response to us. She’ll say, ‘Let me look into that and get back to you,'” Thomson said.

While he said there are still goals to be attained — a more user friendly Web site and consistently better customer service among them — the town has come a long way.

“When you compare where the council and the community was a year ago, the ship has been righted,” he said.