Veazie town manager of 19 years fired by council, gets $100,000 severance deal

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 12, 2011, at 11:23 p.m.

VEAZIE, Maine — The Town Council voted to fire Town Manager Bill Reed Monday night during a council meeting that was slated to serve as the council’s review of Reed.

The council went into executive session soon after the meeting began “to discuss the council’s rights and responsibilities in regards to a personnel matter,” Council Chairman Joe Friedman said.

When they returned around 30 minutes later, the council made a motion to “terminate” the town manager. Friedman and councilors David King and Brian Perkins voted in favor. Councilor Tammy Olson abstained and Councilor Jon Parker voted against the motion.

According to Reed’s contract, the council could choose not to renew the contract and instead give him a severance package, Town Attorney Thomas Russell said, clarifying that Reed was not being “dismissed.” Reed will receive about $100,000, which will come out of the town’s undesignated general fund balance.

Reed provided copies of his performance reviews. Each councilor was asked to give Reed a rating between 0 and 5 in 12 categories ranging from “Quality of Work” to “Leadership.”

The responses were anonymous, but each councilor was assigned a number. Councilors also were asked to explain the reasons behind their ratings.

The grades were mostly 2s and 3s, but Reed received two 0s each in “Personal Work Habits,” “Attitude,” “Teamwork,” “Public Relations & Communications” and “Leadership” — all from councilors No. 3 and No. 5.

“I have noticed that he rarely admits to making a mistake or being wrong, which is my definition of immaturity and poor leadership,” Councilor No. 3 said.

In evaluating Reed’s organization skills, Councilor No. 3 gave him a score of 3, “although I do not believe that Manager Reed has an overwhelming workload to balance.”

Councilor No. 5 chose not to explain his reasons for any ratings, including the 0s.

Reed requested that the review session be open to the public — a rare occurrence — and more than 35 residents and town employees packed the council chamber.

The decision to end Reed’s term as town manager drew murmurs from the crowd.

“I just don’t know what’s happening to our town and I’m very, very disturbed and disappointed,” said Veazie resident Bill Hogan.

Other residents questioned why the council was willing to pay the hefty sum of $100,000 to part ways with Reed.

Reed said that he felt some of the councilors’ reviews stemmed more from personal strife than from opinions of his performance as town manager.

He had clashed with several councilors over their discussions outside of public meetings and over Reed’s requests for information from the Veazie Sewer District regarding the legality of its assessments.

Questions about the sewer district will be delved into at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the district’s offices.

He said Veazie has been “an excellent community to work and live in,” and that he would work with Friedman and the town attorney to make sure the transition to the next manager will go as smooth as possible.

“I’m going to take a few days off and go to Bermuda,” Reed said late Monday.

Two Veazie employees will take over Reed’s day-to-day duties until the council decides on who to appoint to the now-vacant town manager position. The council will discuss and possibly appoint a replacement manager before tomorrow’s Planning Board meeting, Friedman said.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement between the town of Veazie and the Orono Firefighters Association, with minor changers to last year’s agreement.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/09/12/news/bangor/veazie-town-manager-of-19-years-fired-by-council-gets-100000-severance-deal/ printed on August 27, 2014