Michael Geary appointed Acting City Manager

Michael Geary

Special meeting to appoint acting City Manager effective March 10, 2014.

Kennedy moves that the council appointment Michael Geary acting city manager effective March 11, 2014 and that appointment stay in place until a permanent manager is hired.

Councilor Martin says he supports Geary but he wants to address the fact that other names have been mentioned as possibilities. He says there are other capable department heads who could do the job. He says the council has three employees, the manager, the auditor and the clerk. The clerk is the only one remaining. He reminds us that Geary applied to be city manager when Bernie Lynch was hired and made it to the interview stage. He also says Geary will have the authority to hire people to assist him while he serves in this capacity. He also says that the department heads work well as a team and elevating one of them might disrupt that.

Councilor Mercier agrees with Councilor Martin. Says Geary is a terrific choice but there are other outstanding people. Mentions Susan LeMay (the assessor). Says she knows everyone will pitch in during this time of crisis caused by everyone else leaving at the same time. Has a couple of questions: What’s the difference between acting and interim city manager?

City Solicitor says substantively they mean the same to many people. The statute specifically mentions an “acting” city manager. The law lays out specific powers of an acting manager where it is silent as to the term “interim.” The law only contemplates an acting or an actual city manager.

Mercier: The law requires the council to appoint a “department head” to be an acting city manager. Can the council hire a city manager for a term of just sixty days?

Solicitor: Absolutely. The council can set the term for a city manager (as opposed to an acting or interim) and make that term as long or as short as it wants.

Mercier: If the Clerk is appointed as acting manager, would he have the authority to hire someone to assist?

Solicitor: Yes, the acting manager has full authority to hire people provided there is funding.

Mercier: Will that person have the power to sign contracts.

Solicitor: Yes, the acting manager has full authority to bargain, to hire, to fire, to execute contracts.

Councilor Samaras: Plans to support this. Can we get a time line from the current city manager of the budget process after his departure?

Mayor Elliott: I’ll communicate that request to the city manager.

Councilor Leahy: I got a few emails and I appreciate the willingness of the department heads to step up but I’m going to support Mr. Geary. It’s easier and less disruptive.

Mayor Elliott suggests the appointment be for a time certain. The deadline for applications is Feb 28. Councilors will have a week at least to review applications. We’ll then meet again to decide on an interview schedule. I suggest April 22 would give enough time to follow the hiring process and let the person we hire give notice to current employer.

Kennedy: Disagrees. Says the statute reads that the acting manager serves until the new manager is hired. That covers it. We don’t want a period of time when we have no city manager because it takes longer to hire someone. If you want to set a deadline for hiring a city manager, let’s do that.

Elliott agrees.

Councilor Belanger is more comfortable with an open-ended appointment.

ROLL CALL: Unanimous vote for Michael Geary.

Kennedy moves that assistant city clerk, Angela Gitschier, be appointed acting clerk while Geary is acting as City Manager. Motion passes unanimously.

Council adjourns at 5:25 pm.

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