LINCOLN, Maine — The Town Council voted 6-0 during a special meeting on Thursday night to terminate probationary Town Manager Bill Reed’s contract effective immediately.
There was no discussion among councilors before the vote. Councilors took a break and an executive session before voting 6-0 to appoint Police Chief William Lawrence as interim town manager. That ended the meeting. Councilor Shaun Drinkwater was absent.
Reed’s six-month review was due late next month. He was hired in June after having served as town manager in Veazie. He had no comment after the meeting and before the meeting seemed sanguine.
“It is what it is,” Reed said in an email.
Reed exchanged hugs and handshakes with several town employees in between carrying his belongings to his vehicle.
Councilor Curt Ring, who made the motion to terminate the contract, explained the council’s reasoning briefly.
“It just wasn’t a good fit,” he said.
He declined further comment.
Council Chairman Steve Clay said that Reed’s termination was not in retribution for the recent uncovering of about $1.5 million in accounting errors in this and last year’s town budgets.
The termination “has been coming for awhile,” Clay said. “It was just not a good fit.”
Given that Reed was a probationary employee, the council could terminate him merely for differing management styles, Reed has said.
Clay said the reasons for the termination are a personnel matter and confidential.
Lawrence becomes interim manager for the second time. He served as manager when former Town Manager Lisa Goodwin left to become Bangor’s city clerk.
After the meeting, Lawrence wryly noted that inheriting problems is something he has done in Lincoln before. In April 2011, he succeeded Reserve Officer James “Jamie” Slauenwhite, an Old Town Police Department patrolman and former Lincoln police sergeant. Lawrence effectively ended a revolving door of police chiefs in Lincoln that had been rotating for several years.
He expressed confidence that the town would weather the accounting problems well.
“It’s problem-solving,” Lawrence said. “You identify the problem, you fix it and you move on.”
Speaking at a council meeting on the accounting errors for the first time, Assessor Ruth Birtz apologized and took responsibility for her portion of the double-booking errors that caused the shortfall, as did Treasurer Gilberte Mayo. Miscommunication and missing paperwork were largely responsible for the errors, she said.
Ring told both that he appreciated how hard they had worked to solve the problems since their uncovering. Others have praised both for their integrity.
Lawrence said that he felt the two were solid professionals, very dedicated to their work and very much responsible for the town having had healthy audits and never having had any significant bookkeeping errors or shortfalls previously.
Both are significant players in the town’s financial stability, he said.