Monday, December 16, 2013

Southbridge Council Fails To Approve Reed As Acting Town Manager…Amended Contract Submitted For His Approval

By a vote of four to four the Town Council initially failed to approve the proposed employment contract between the Town of Southbridge and Robert T. Reed to serve as Acting Town Manager.

With Council Chairman Langevin absent, the meeting was chaired by Council Vice-Chairman Darlene Marcucci. Councilors Carrasco, Moriarty, Peloquin and Vandal voted against the contract. Voting in favor were Councilors Clemence, Manna, Marcucci and Nikolla. Under Robert’s Rules a tie vote results in defeat of the motion. 

Prior to the Council Meeting a Meeting of the Council of the Whole was held to review the proposed contract. This meeting of the whole was originally scheduled to be held in the George Parent Community Room. That venue was subsequently changed and held in council chambers and televised.

During the review of the contract at the meeting of the whole substantial concern was registered regarding the provision of a town owned vehicle to the candidate by several councilors. Councilor Carrasco registered objection to the amount being paid for the scheduled amount of work time to be required. Councilor Peloquin expressed reservation about the authority of an Acting Town Manager citing experiences with the acquisition of DPW property and a side letter to the Casella contract.

Councilor Clemence spoke indignantly about the decision not to approve the contract and called for a special meeting next week to bring up a new contract that met the objections of the councilors who voted no.

Councilor Carrasco stated during councilors’ forum that his primary concern was with the vehicle issue, but also the matter of compensation weighed into his decision. During the forum Councilor Moriarty stated he had offered a resolution of the vehicle issue that failed to gain traction. In addition, he felt that insufficient time had been allotted to consider the terms of the contract.

Councilor Vandal expressed his feeling that the contract was too lucrative for what he termed “a poor town”. He emphasized that he had no objection to Mr., Reed, but only to the terms of the contract.

Councilor Clemence suggested that anyone who voted on the prevailing side could move to reconsider since the council was still in session.

During the discussion of the next meeting date, town attorney Caprera interrupted to point out that a motion to reconsider had to be made during this meeting and, if so made, the contract could then be amended.

Councilor Moriarty moved to reconsider which was seconded by Councilor Clemence. The motion to reconsider passed with five votes. Councilor Moriarty joined the four who had originally voted for the contract. An amendment was offered to substitute a $150 per week vehicle allowance in lieu of the town vehicle. Mr. Reed declined to make an immediate decision to accept the offer, saying that he would have to discuss any alterations with Mr. Clark.

Prior to a vote on the amendment Finance Director Harnois requested that the contract be approved as originally negotiated.

Councilor Nikolla recommended turning the vehicle over to the DPW Director and expressed her outrage. She termed it an embarrassment to the town and Mr. Reed and said it illustrated why the meeting of the whole should not have been televised.  (No surprise there!)

The amendment passed with seven in favor and Councilor Peloquin voting present. The amended motion passed by the same vote. The contract now goes back to Mr. Reed pending his acceptance of the amended terms.

1 comment:

  1. It sent a shiver down my spine when Nikolla said, "This is a good contract". It seems I've heard her say that before to ultimate regret.


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