EASTPORT, Maine — Four members of the City Council on Monday night unanimously accepted the resignation of longtime Town Manager George “Bud” Finch, effective Dec. 31.
There was barely any comment from the councilors as they voted, and not one councilor provided a reason for accepting the resignation.
Finch said that he offered the resignation because he felt that the council’s vision and his vision for Eastport were not the same.
“These are more than difficult times that we face, complex times,” Finch said. He cited declining revenues and spiraling expenses, water and sewer issues, and school consolidation as just the tip of the iceberg ahead.
“If the council wishes, I will leave Dec. 31,” he said. “I have made it clear to every council I have worked with that their support is vital. I can’t get the work done that I need to if I have to fight with the council on a daily basis.”
Finch said the conflict between himself and the council has been going on since July.
“This is not a sudden thing,” he said. “I can’t do this job without the council’s support and it is clear tonight there is no support.”
There was plenty of support from the audience, however, with many asking the council to refuse to accept the resignation. Once the result was evident, supporters asked Finch to remain as manager until a new manager can make the transition into the position.
Meg McGarvey said that to go without a town manager, even for a few months, “frightens me. I’m afraid for this city.”
Linda Godfrey, a local businesswoman, asked the council to hold a visioning workshop. “You need to bring your vision forward so we, the people, know what that is,” she said. “We need to know where we are going in the future. We can’t falter now. None of us that are making large investments in Eastport want petty problems to affect this.”
Police Chief Matt Vinson, Fire Chief Richard Clark and Code Enforcement Officer Robert Scott all praised Finch’s skill as a leader.
“He’s been my boss for 14 years,” Clark said, noting that there were nine different town managers in Eastport in the 15 years before Finch’s tenure. “We need a transition. It can’t be ‘bang’ and he’s gone.”
Scott said a new budget cycle would begin in January. “He’s done 14 of them. You are crazy to let him go,” he told the council.
Councilor Paul Critchley tried to reassure the audience that the council would insist on a smooth transition.
“We have the ability to hire an acting town manager,” Critchley said.
Councilor John Miller said, “Bud has done a great job in so many areas,” and that there were significant changes throughout Eastport. Critchley expressed his agreement.
Newly elected Council Chairman Robert Peacock scheduled a 9 a.m. meeting today with Finch to work out the details of his separation from Eastport and the transition to a new or interim town manager.
After the meeting, Finch was optimistic.
“I am convinced that even in these difficult times, the best is yet to come, for Eastport. I love my city and my work. Yes, I feel I have unfinished work.”
He said that a “new political wind was sweeping through Washington County” and that his tenure was one of its casualties.
Finch said he had not made any plans for next year. “After 14 years, I guess the time has come to step back and take care of my own well-being,” he said.