PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Illness and family bereavement forced cancellation Monday of a City Council meeting to discuss recruitment of a new city manager.
City Manager Tom Stevens said Tuesday that the meeting has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at City Hall.
The meeting was scheduled after it was announced earlier this month that the council had decided not to renew Stevens’ contract when it expires in early January.
The manager said during a recent interview that he has always had a multiyear contract, but it was extended for only one year last year. The city manager said that in the spring, he asked the council through his attorney to reconsider not renewing his contract.
Council Chairman Ed Nickerson maintains that councilors are grateful to Stevens and what he has done for the city for the past 17 years, but said they have decided not to renew Stevens’ contract because they want the city to “move into the 21st century.”
Nickerson said the council is looking for a creative way to bring more innovation, jobs, businesses and other advancements to the area. Councilors believe a new manager might help that process.
Nickerson said Stevens knew when the council renewed his contract for one year last year that he likely would not be hired back.
Councilors told the manager to “actively and earnestly seek employment elsewhere” at the time, Nickerson said, adding that they told Stevens that if he had not found a job by Oct. 1, the council would initiate the search for a new manager.
Stevens did not dispute that last week.
Nickerson said councilors told Stevens they wanted to bring more innovation and jobs to the area several years ago and presented him with their suggestions about what they wanted to see and how to do it.
Councilors contend that Stevens failed to take adequate action, according to Nickerson.
Stevens said he has done everything he could with the resources the city has had on hand, pointing out that numerous businesses have been established and expanded in the city over the past few years.
While councilors contend that Stevens was given plenty of time to find a new job and was asking the council to reconsider not renewing his contract at the last minute, Stevens denies this. He said last week that he made the initial request for them to reconsider their decision in April or May.