OXFORD — Selectmen extended Town Manager Michael Chammings’ contract for five years during an emergency meeting Tuesday evening. There was little public notice of the meeting and no minutes were recorded, as required by Maine law. 

The contract, which was released to the Sun Journal through a Freedom of Access Act request, indicates that Chammings is to be paid $80,654 in base salary in the next year, plus $3,000 a year for overseeing the town’s Tax Increment Financing District and an additional $8,000 a year for administering the town’s sewer district. In total, the annual pay is $91,654.

Asked for a copy of his previous contracts, Chammings said Thursday that they were not available. He was hired as town manager in October 2004.

The $8,000 for sewer district administration will be paid retroactive to July 1, 2014. The contract also provides up to an annual 7 percent match of Chammings’ pay in a retirement account.

The Board of Selectmen ordinarily meet on the first and third Thursdays of each month. But, according to Chammings, who consulted with Shana Cook Mueller, the town’s attorney, the meeting was called as an emergency session because selectmen were under a May 30 deadline to review Chammings’ contract, and their next meeting on June 4 had been canceled.

The review consists of a performance evaluation and can include raises and bonuses, according to his contract terms. At the same time, the board can vote to extend the contract.


According to the contract, the performance review must be held “on or about May 30 of each year.”

Asked why selectmen waited to approve the town manager’s contract until a special meeting, Selectman Peter Laverdiere said the contract deadline was inadvertently overlooked.

After he was asked for further clarification on this oversight, Chammings said he asked an attorney to review the document after hearing a rumor he was writing his own employment contracts. The document was returned shortly before a May 21 meeting, but it was incomplete, Chammings said. 

Faced with that scenario, Cook Mueller said in an email to the Sun Journal that the board determined that an emergency meeting was required in order to comply with the contract deadline.

On Wednesday, a number of selectmen told the Sun Journal they were aware of Tuesday’s meeting — set as a tentative date — as long as three weeks ago. They were not aware the meeting was not posted before Tuesday afternoon.

Under Maine law, meetings of public bodies — including boards of selectmen — “shall be given in ample time to allow public attendance,” and posted in a way to notify the general public of that meeting. In cases of emergency, “local representatives of the media shall be notified of the meeting, whenever practical . . . by the same or faster means used to notify the members of the agency conducting the public proceeding.”


In this case, according to Chammings, notice of Tuesday’s emergency meeting was sent to the media by email at 2:59 p.m. and posted in the Town Office. The Sun Journal received that notice at 5:26 p.m.; the meeting began at 6 p.m. 

According to Chairman Floyd Thayer, selectmen discussed scheduling a special meeting to vote on the contract during their May 21 meeting, though the actual date was left up in the air. No record of such a conversation was contained in the meeting minutes.

Laverdiere said he knew last Friday by word-of-mouth that there would be a meeting Tuesday, but had no knowledge whether the notice was posted publicly in advance of the meeting. He assumed, because it usually was, that the town manager had posted it.  

“There’s nothing surreptitious,” Laverdiere said.  

Chammings later said he told some selectmen he was tentatively planning for June 2, though nothing was permanent because he was waiting for a selectman to return from vacation to set the date. 

Selectman Roger Jackson said the meeting was straightforward: After saluting the flag, the board entered into executive session for a personnel matter, voted to come out of the private session and unanimously voted to extend Chammings’ contract for five years.   

When asked for a hard copy of meeting minutes, Chammings said that none were taken because a clerk was not available. He later indicated he would prepare a copy at a later date. 


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