By Diana Bowley of the BDN Staff: DEXTER, Maine — With his contract up for action, Dexter Town Manager Dave Pearson surprised the Town Council on Thursday when he announced his intention to resign from the job effective Feb. 1, 2012.
Because his current contract expires Feb. 12, Pearson proposed the same contract he has been working under with no increase in pay, but one that would terminate on Feb. 1 of next year.
“At the end of that year, you’ll get my resignation,” he said.
Pearson said he wanted only one more year to continue some projects that are under way and to allow the town time to get another manager on board.
“This takes me by … surprise,” Town Councilor Andre Robichaud said. For the “valuable asset that he is,” Pearson should get a raise for the year, Robichaud said.
Rather than act on his contract Thursday, the council voted to table the matter until its Feb. 10 meeting to give two new council members time to review Pearson’s evaluation.
A motion to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter under state law was made by council member Rick Goodwin. Pressed by Pearson about the subject matter, Goodwin said it would be to discuss holiday pay for part-time help. He said he thought the charter was “extremely vague” on that issue.
Pearson then reminded the board that the subject matter of an executive session had to meet state guidelines. Something that can be discussed in open session should be addressed in open session, Pearson said.
“I kind of think the public’s business ought to be done in public as much as possible,” he added.
After Town Clerk Shelley Watson also suggested the subject was not appropriate for executive session, the matter was discussed in public.
Goodwin said he thought it was somewhat unfair that part-time employees received the same holiday pay as full-time employees.
“My feeling is that those that work 60 percent of a full workweek should get 60 percent of a holiday’s pay regardless if it falls on a workday,” Goodwin said.
That discussion was followed by an executive session to get an update on a police department investigation.
In October, an investigation was launched after a letter of no confidence signed by the town’s four full-time police officers was presented to town officials. Police Chief Jim Emerson was given a list of corrective actions to take, including participation in a leadership class and a mentoring program, as a result of the investigation and was placed on 90 days’ probation.
As he has done from the start, Emerson, who was present Thursday, said he wanted any discussion about his performance conducted in open session.
“If you are going to discuss me, I want it out in the open,” he said.
Council Chairman Roger Brawn assured Emerson that the executive session would focus on the process and the timetable of the investigation and that no names of employees would be mentioned.
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