MECHANIC FALLS — Town Manager Zakk Maher has excused himself from a combined Town Council and Planning Board meeting to lessen the risk of “any potential claims of retaliation” from Code Enforcement Officer Fred Collins.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Municipal Building to begin discussion about ordinances to investigate the code enforcement officer.

Maher noted in an email sent to councilors, “I am going to recuse myself from this entire process for a conflict of interest on the ground that the CEO was charged with investigating myself during my administrative leave and is still, since my return, been reporting to the council directly.”

Maher did not specify what Collins, who was interim town manager during Maher’s administrative leave, was investigating while Maher was suspended as town manager from June 17 until Aug. 5, after which the council rescinded the suspension.

“The council has been made aware of this situation and in order to limit any potential claims of retaliation from an employee,” Maher wrote. “I would suggest you bring (town attorney Jack Conway) in to help with this investigative process.”

In a second email to the councilors, Maher said he was excusing himself on the advice of the town attorney and his personal lawyer, “given the ongoing legal situation.”

The matter of devising ordinances to investigate the CEO was tabled at last week’s council meeting.

The reason to draw up the ordinances, in part, was stated in an earlier email from Maher that read, “The council has received formal and detailed complaints regarding the Codes Office.”

The second email also stated, “AVCOG (Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments) has found a retired code enforcement professional that would be willing to offer their experience reviewing how the land use codes were interpreted.”

The email said Conway was recommending an independent review of the complaints. Collins has also “indicated he would prefer to have an independent 3rd-party industry professional present,” according to the email.

Collins could not be reached Thursday for comment.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: