AUBURN — Councilors voted 5-2 Tuesday to extend City Manager Glenn Aho’s employment contract through 2013 and approved a 2.9 percent salary increase.

Belinda Gerry and Eric Samson voted against the contract.

With the new contract, Aho receives an annual salary of $105,900. He received no bonus and no cost-of-living increase but did get a 2.9 percent raise for satisfactory performance.

Councilors were free with their public compliments of Aho but stopped short of airing criticisms.

They were scheduled to discuss Aho’s job performance behind closed doors in an executive session. They needed five of seven votes to close the doors, but Councilors Gerry, Mike Farrell and Dan Herrick voted against it.

Herrick and Farrell both said they didn’t think a closed door meeting was necessary.

Aho had asked councilors to fill out and return evaluation forms, and said none of the forms he received had any negative comments.

“I didn’t turn mine in because I kept changing my answers,” Ward 5’s Gerry said.

“Overall, I agree the city manager has done a good job, but there were several areas where I was not happy with the way things turned out,” she said.

She began to list areas where she was dissatisfied, beginning with Aho’s handling of the city’s budget. But Councilor Eric Samson stopped her from continuing, saying those kinds of discussions belonged in an executive session.

Aho agreed.

“I love the city of Auburn, but I think I deserve a little better than this,” Aho said.

Former Councilor Ron Potvin wasn’t under any obligation to not speak, and he blasted Aho. Potvin blamed the city manager for difficult budget discussions last month and for several top city department heads resigning. He asked councilors to withhold a raise and not extend Aho’s contract.

“I suggest that the city manager is deeply out of touch with the people in this community,” Potvin said.

Councilor Ray Berube defended Aho, saying that the number of department heads leaving the city represented better accountability.

“That’s something we’ve never had in this city, ever before,” Berube said. “So you need to hear both sides of the issue before you speak.”

Herrick said he didn’t return his evaluation form in either.

“I think the city manager knows where I stand,” he said. “A piece of paper or a public meeting don’t matter.”

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