AUBURN — A letter read by a city councilor Tuesday accused City Manager Glenn Aho of creating a hostile work environment.
Councilors rehashed some of their most controversial topics of the past year at an angry meeting. Subjects included the fate of Finance Director Tracy Roy who resigned last month, Aho's performance and his reorganization of the city's department managers.
Councilors suspended their own agenda rules to vote to hire an assistant city manager.
Councilor Ray Berube read a letter from Roy alleging harassment during her time in the city's employ. Ray later refused to release a copy of the letter to the public or to Aho.
"You can take what you want from the meeting tape and you can print what you want," Berube said.
The letter alleged employees fear for their jobs and will not speak up.
"One employee asked for help because the way they were being harassed and the response given by administration to this individual was that their best bet was to look for another job," Berube read.
The letter claimed Aho brought in a third party to investigate Roy's harassment claims but kept the results of the investigation to himself.
"I fear that employees will continue to work in silence, neglecting to stand up for themselves because they fear that if they do, they too will be retaliated against and will be the next target," Berube read.
Aho confirmed that local lawyer George Isaacson attempted to investigate Roy's harassment claims, but she declined to participate. The report, and Roy's personnel file as a city employee, are considered private and personnel matters.
Councilor Dan Herrick said he also brought a copy of Roy's letter to the meeting.
"If Ray didn't read it, I was going to," Herrick said.
He also refused to make the letter public.
"I have a $20 bill in my pocket," Herrick said. "You want that, too?"
Councilor Belinda Gerry said she had received a copy of the letter but did not bring it to the meeting. She thought all councilors and Aho had been sent copies of the letter, she said.
Berube later made hiring an assistant manager a key point. He said councilors had no business not hiring an assistant because the job is referred to in the City Charter.
He called for allocating at least $60,000 for the position and demanded that the city begin advertising right away.
The job has been vacant since Laurie Smith resigned in June 2010. Police Chief Phil Crowell worked as acting assistant manager until July.
The assistant manager's position was one of the first items cut from the city's budget last spring. Aho had said the position was unnecessary because he had created a new team-based management approach. Team leaders meet with Aho and help similar departments operate and plan.
Councilors adopted the budget without an assistant city manager.
That was a mistake, Berube said.
"(Aho) should be made to send out applications and hire an assistant city manager," Berube said. "That's in the charter and you cannot ignore it."
Councilor Dan Herrick agreed.
"I believe we can find the money to put an assistant city manger back in place because we really need it," Herrick said. "With the respect stuff that's going on in the city now between employees and the city manager, the council and the mayor, back and forth, we should have one."