ROCKPORT — Eleven residents charged with finding Rockport's next town administrator are inching closer to their goal of delivering a list of viable candidates to selectmen by late this month, officials said yesterday.

Just over three dozen candidates applied to fill the town's top executive post in August.

According to Town Administrator Search Committee Chairman Peter Watson, the committee is interviewing six of the top candidates for the post, and that number could rise.

"We're certainly not unhappy with the choices we have," Watson said.

The Search Committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday and Thursday nights, but those public meetings will immediately enter into executive session to allow the members to interview the semifinalists for the job, which promises a salary between $90,000 and $105,000.

According to a public advertisement crafted by the town for the position, a benefit package in addition to the salary is also "negotiable" with selectmen, depending upon experience.

Once interviews are completed, committee members will begin the task of validating selected candidates' resume claims and checking references.

Selectmen Chairman Sandy Jacques said he and his colleagues are optimistic that Rockport will have a permanent town administrator by mid-November, but was quick to add that, even if a candidate is selected by that time, selectmen still have to negotiate a contract before the new administrator could begin work.

Interim Town Administrator Edgar Gadbois is filling the post until a permanent replacement for former Town Administrator Michael Racicot is selected.

Jacques said Gadbois has committed to staying in Rockport as its interim administrator through the end of the year or until a replacement is found. In July, when Gadbois was hired, selectmen estimated his services would be needed for a period between three and five months.

Gadbois earns $500 per day in addition to mileage reimbursement at the federal rate of 55 cents per mile for his approximately 240-mile round-trip weekly commute from Falmouth. He is also being paid hotel reimbursement for the nights he stays in town at Rockport Inn & Suites.

The 72-year-old interim administrator works three days per week, usually Tuesday through Thursday, but stays longer when necessary. Since starting in mid-July, it's estimated Gadbois has earned approximately $19,500 in wages and mileage reimbursement over the course of 10 weeks. He will have earned roughly $32,600 if the town needed him to stay through December.

Jonathan L'Ecuyer can be reached at jlecuyer@gloucestertimes.com.

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