Clarksburg town administrator resigns after contract dispute with Select Board
CLARKSBURG — Town Administrator Carl McKinney has resigned over a contract dispute with the town's Select Board.
The board wanted to put McKinney's annual salary increase to a vote at the upcoming annual town meeting — a process McKinney claims he is not only "very uncomfortable" with, but is not valid under the terms of his contract.
McKinney was just one year into a three-year contract, and had served in the position since 2014.
"I like Carl and I think the best interest of the town is in his heart, but we have to move forward," Select Board Chairman Ron Boucher told The Eagle on Wednesday.
McKinney served on the Select Board for more than 10 years until 2014, when he resigned from the board to apply for the town administrator job. He was appointed later that year and signed a three-year contract.
McKinney inked another three-year deal last May. His salary, currently at just more than $46,690, was set to increase to $50,000 in the second year and $55,000 in the third year of the deal.
He submitted his resignation with six weeks' notice last week and will now take unused paid time off.
McKinney's contract was signed before the board's only two current members, Boucher and Karin Robert, were voted into office last May.
Boucher, who is now the board's chairman, questions the validity of the contract because he could not find recorded minutes for meetings at which it was negotiated.
"If you can't find the signed minutes, to me it didn't count," Boucher said, though he added "I understand you have an agreement."
Boucher argued that the contract was performance-based, and "it gave the Select Board the right to give him what they thought was fair."
McKinney disagrees, and asserts that the scheduled salary increase was not subject to a performance review of the board or up for debate at town meeting.
The contract, a copy of which McKinney provided to The Eagle, states that the board shall "review and appraise the performance of the Town Administrator ... in accordance with specific criteria developed jointly by the board and the town administrator."
The next section lays out the exact salary McKinney will be paid in year two and three —$50,000 and $55,000 respectively. In the following paragraph, it states that "annually, the town administrator shall be eligible to a raise in each of years two and three provided that he receives a satisfactory evaluation from the board and subject to the availability of funds."
Boucher noted that McKinney had received warnings, both verbally and in writing in the last year, about his performance. McKinney confirmed that there were two issues he was warned about: failure to provide Robert a complete copy of his schedule in a timely manner, and inadvertently providing the board with last year's budget figures when submitting the administration's budget request.
"We decided the best way to go was to bring it to town meeting and have it written up as an article ... and voters would decide at town meeting," Boucher said. "He got upset and he submitted his resignation."
McKinney said that he has no problem advocating on behalf of the town, but refused to ask town voters for the salary increase. A process by which town meeting voters decide his raise was not written into his contract, he said.
In McKinney' absence, Boucher said he will handle day-to-day operations of the town.
After Tuesday's annual town election — in which Robert faces competition for reelection from Danielle Luchi and a third seat has drawn no candidates — Boucher said the board will reassess the situation.
"We'll see how the board is put together on Wednesday, then we will get everything in place and start to advertise for the town administrator," Boucher said.
McKinney, who described himself as an advocate for small towns and economic development in the Berkshires, hopes to continue his career in public service.
"People should be proud of their community and I am," McKinney said. "Moving forward, hopefully this divisiveness can merge into a level of cooperation that's productive."
McKinney said he has not considered legal action against the town.
Adam Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.