BETHEL – For yet-to-be-made-public reasons, selectmen twice decided this month not to renew Town Manager Scott Cole’s contract. The four-year agreement, which pays Cole $77,000 a year, expires June 30.

After an executive session at their Monday night meeting, selectmen reaffirmed their unanimous 5-0 vote taken after a previous closed-door session on Jan. 12, Chairman Stanley Howe said Tuesday.

He declined to give reasons for the decisions.

“We won’t have any comment to make on it,” Howe said. “We’re going to have a meeting next Monday to review the transition process.”

Cole is also mum on the matter. All he would say is that selectmen voted not to renew his contract or to extend it beyond June 30.

“There’s a lot to do and I’m going to accomplish it in the next five months,” he said.

Cole was hired in June 1999, replacing Town Manager Phil Tarr, who served two years. Tarr’s contract wasn’t renewed. Prior to Tarr, Madeliene Henley lead Bethel from 1990 to 1997.

Cole came to Bethel from Standish, where he served as town manager for more than six years. He was first offered a two-year contract at $72,000 a year. That was followed by two four-year contracts, but he’s only been paid $77,000 in the last two years.

According to his last contract, selectmen must give him written notice prior to March 1 in the final year of the contract if they intend to sever the agreement.

Town Clerk Christen Mason said talks to start that process began with the Jan. 12 executive session to discuss renewal of Cole’s employment agreement. Cole wasn’t asked to participate in those discussions, she said.

When selectmen left that session, Selectman Dennis Doyon motioned not to renew Cole’s contract. It was seconded by Selectman Donald Bennett and a 5-0 vote OK’d Doyon’s motion, Mason said.

Then, at a special selectmen and Budget Committee meeting three days later to discuss replacement of a front-end loader, Bennett wanted the board to reconsider the vote. However, because Doyon’s father-in-law had died that day, he was absent, so Bennett tabled his motion to the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 27.

At that meeting, Bennett motioned to reconsider the Jan. 12 vote. Doyon was the sole dissenter, so the board reconsidered it, Mason said. Then, they convened an executive session when Cole was asked to sit in for 15 minutes. When the more than 60-minute session ended at 9:45 p.m. Monday, Selectman Robert Everett motioned to uphold the original Jan. 12 vote not to renew Cole’s contract. Another 5-0 vote upheld the Jan. 12 vote, Mason said.

Selectmen scheduled another special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, to discuss the process to hire a new town manager and to determine next steps, Mason said.


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