2017-03-09 / Front Page

Former manager takes temp Auburn post

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – It’s been more than two months since John Bubier left his post working in the economic development department for Biddeford, and almost two years since he resigned as city manager.

Now a resident of Yarmouth who will turn 73 this month, Bubier is acting city manager for Auburn, and Biddeford’s economic development department – particularly Brad Favreau, the economic development coordinator – has taken over his work load.

“Brad Favreau has essentially taken (Bubier’s) place, though Brad has a different skill set than John, and hence the position itself has been adjusted,” said Mayor Alan Casavant. “Brad does a fantastic job with data collection and application, and so there is a need for his skills on a daily basis.”

The position has been adjusted in terms of pay and working hours. Bubier was paid about $75,000 annually and worked at least 30 hours a week but not full time, Casavant said.

Daniel Stevenson, director of economic and community development, said Favreau’s salary is about $50,000 annually and works full time as the economic development coordinator. Some of Bubier’s salary money is used to fund his position.

Favreau, 53, began working with the city in summer 2014 in a paid, 160-hour internship while pursuing his master’s degree in community and development at the University of Southern Maine. This internship segued into a part-time position that lasted two years until Bubier retired. Favreau was subsequently hired full time, starting Jan. 1.

Favreau said he gathers data for pending projects, with a focus on the downtown area.

When he was part-time, Favreau conducted background work to present several sites for the York County Courthouse. He is now accumulating background information for a possible parking garage and working with City Planner Greg Tansley to update Biddeford’s Comprehensive Plan. He attends Downtown Development Commission meetings, Heart of Biddeford meetings and Downtown Task Force subcommittee meetings.

“Brad has been doing an outstanding job,” Stevenson said.

Bubier’s role as city manager came to an end in October 2015 when he retired. Immediately upon retirement, Bubier was kept on the city’s payroll to help with economic development projects.

“When John was replaced as city manager, there was a number of projects that needed attention. It was decided to keep John on board until Dec. 31 (2016), and that decision was reflected in the last budget cycle,” Casavant said.

Stevenson said when Bubier retired, Biddeford was experiencing significant economic development growth, so the city and Bubier agreed to have him continue to work for Biddeford in that department as the special projects assistant, a position created specifically for Bubier.

Bubier said after his role in the economic development department in Biddeford ended, he started a small consulting firm called John D. Bubier Principal Contractor Special Project Administration at his Yarmouth home to complete short term projects, such as work on rising sea levels in Vinalhaven and on a sustainability plan for its downtown.

Bubier said the job as acting city manager in Auburn came to him when a contact from Maine-based law firm Eaton Peabody asked him if he would be interested in standing in for the manager, a temporary position. Denis D’Auteuil, the interim city manager who preceded Bubier, landed an opportunity to go to Lewiston to be assistant to the mayor, which he took. This left no manager in Auburn, so Bubier was given the opportunity.

“My position is simply an acting role as the acting city manager until the new person is confirmed, hired and on board,” Bubier said.

He said the position will likely not last longer than three or four months, and he is mainly working on the city’s budget, though a lot of the work will be operational as a result of D’Autueil leaving.

Bubier said he likes the position so far.

“It’s going good. It’s always fun to be in the problem solving business,” Bubier said. “(Auburn) has got a great staff here and the community is larger than Biddeford but is roughly equivalent in the sense that it has old mills and a lot of history. This is a good time for me to give back. Doing some of these things like working for smaller towns and bringing the experience to those towns is fun for me, good for them and rewarding for both sides.”

Those aren’t the only reasons he likes the new job, he said.

“(The job) allows me to keep busy but also allows me to play more golf and take more photographs,” he said with a laugh.

Despite his embrace of the new job, Bubier reflects on his time in Biddeford.

“Biddeford was a wonderful period of time for me. We managed to do a lot of strong changing, and the purchase of Maine Energy and the opening up of the downtown was a result of that,” he said. “There’s been 10 years of very strong growth and I’m assuming it’s still going on as we speak. That’s always rewarding. The Biddeford staff is a terrific bunch of folks. You can’t say enough about those kinds of councils that let you do your job.”

Bubier worked in and out of city management for 35 or 40 years, he said, with 11 of those years in Biddeford.

“It was a very full 11 years,” he said, adding that there were many projects he helped tackle.

Some of the projects he worked on in Biddeford as special projects assistant include working with Amtrak DownEaster for a multimodal transportation center, initiating discussion for a potential new I-95 on-ramp and exit on South Street and coordinating efforts with property owners on the north side of the downtown railroad tracks to explore buildout scenarios.

Both Casavant and Stevenson extolled Bubier’s work on behalf of Biddeford, with Casavant saying a factor that led to Bubier permanently leaving in December was for budgetary reasons.

“John did a superb job for this city, as a manager, and then as an economic development projects manager,” Casavant said. “I would love to still have him working here, but there are limits to budgets.”

“We were lucky to have John stay on as part of our team to continue to work on projects as we moved forward,” Stevenson said. “It was always meant to be a temporary position for John but he was a great asset. He was a great manager and a super individual who brought decades of experience” to his jobs in Biddeford. “It worked out really, really well.”

Stevenson said although Bubier is and will continue to be missed, the economic development team is ensuring progress is made.

“In terms of growth we’re having, of course we miss John,” Stevenson said. “We personally wish him the best. He’s not just a colleague; he’s a mentor and a friend of mine. That being said, we’re fully staffed and we work as a team and as a department as we deliver what we need for economic goals in the city of Biddeford.”

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