Despite Community Support Town Administrator's Contract Not Renewed
The Board of Selectmen held a public vote to renew Town Administrator Kevin Mearn's contract on Monday. The Selectmen voted to oust Mearn in a vote of 2-1.
After 39 years as a town employee, including 15 years as Police Chief and five years in his most recent position, Kevin Mearn is no longer the Milton Town Administrator.
Mearn’s one-year contract was not renewed in a Board of Selectmen executive session on July 18. Despite a large show of community support for Mearn, including a petition with 165 signatures, the Selectmen reaffirmed the decision Monday night in a meeting at the Council on Aging. Like the closed-door vote, Chair Tom Hurley was the only vote to keep Mearn. Bob Sweeney and Denis Keohane voted not to renegotiate the contract, which expired on June 30.
“I think what we’re doing is regretful,” Hurley said.
Throughout the meeting, which included over 30 minutes of comment from the public, a conflict between Mearn and Police Chief Richard Wells Jr. arose as one of the principle reasons Mearn’s contract was not renewed.
Following the vote and without directly mentioning Wells, Mearn said the issues began when he pointed out “serious irregularities” by a department head.
Sweeney went beyond the rift between Mearn and Wells, stating he had spent the last two years—the length of his current term on the Board of Selectmen—attempting to build a professional relationship with the Town Administrator.
“It hasn’t worked,” said Sweeney, who is currently the most senior member of the board.
Hurley, who is entering the second year of his three-year term and previously chaired the Warrant Committee, rejected Sweeney’s analysis.
“I found Kevin nothing but professional to work with,” said Hurley.
Several speakers mentioned the Selectmen’s perceived desire to start a new board with a new Town Administrator. Like those members of the public, Mearn disagreed with the new direction.
“I am deeply saddened by what I perceive to be a failure of leadership by most of our town’s elected officials,” said Mearn.
Many residents rose in support on Mearn Monday including, former Town Administrator John Cronin, former Selectman John Michael Shields, former Fire Chief Malcolm Larsen and members of Mearns family as well as several citizens.
Shields, who most recently served on the board from 2006 to 2012 after losing to Keohane by a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent in March, called the move “ill-timed and ill-conceived.”
“I don’t think you had a plan,” Shields said. “You just did it.”
Many of the supporters took time to thank Mearn for his service.
“Kevin, hold your head up high,” Shields said. “You’ve done an excellent job for the Town of Milton.”
Speaking on behalf of his family, Kevin’s son Chris also thanked those in attendance during his statement.
“Our father knows and loves Milton,” said Chris Mearn. “We truly appreciate all the love and support.”
Prior to the discussion Monday, Hurley read a letter from Mearn offering to retire one year from the date of his last contract. The suggestion was not considered publicly.
Annmarie Fagan, the current Assistant Town Administrator was appointed the interim Town Administrator. The Selectmen, with a recommendation of the Personnel Board, voted to increase her current salary to $125,000 while serving in the vacated position.
The Board of Selectmen will compile a list of characteristics they’d like in the next Town Administrator and the creation of a search committee at its next meeting.
What do you think about the Board of Selectmen not renewing Town Administrator Kevin Mearn’s contract? Tell us in the comments.