MECHANIC FALLS — Town councilors agreed Monday night to attend a training workshop on the roles of elected officials and municipal managers, before deciding the fate of resolutions detailing responsibilities of elected and appointed town officials and committee members.

The four resolutions deal with:

  • Conflict of Interest and Notice of Personal Gain;
  • Transparency in Action, in which all municipal activity be conducted in an open and transparent manner;
  • Defining expectations for councilors to serve to best of their abilities and in good faith; and
  • Outlining the performance and rights of the town manager according to town structure.

The resolutions were submitted by Town Manager Zakk Maher at the September meeting but were tabled then to get a legal opinion from the Maine Municipal Association.

On the suggestion of Council Chairperson Cathy Fifield, all council members and Maher will attend a training workshop by MMA on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The topics include: clarity of roles and responsibilities, open communication, understanding mutual needs, managing expectations, techniques and protocols, and effective hiring process.

Fifield said the seminar is a “place to start.”

The council will take up the resolutions again next month.

Initially, Councilor Wayne Hackett motioned to table the resolutions indefinitely on the advice of Town Attorney Jack Conway, but later rescinded that motion after Fifield suggested the MMA workshop.

Hackett read part of Conway’s opinion: “The resolutions simply repeat either requirements of the charter or of state law.”

Councilor Joe Emery disagreed. “I think we need to work a little bit here … somewhere along the line we’ve got to start working together. We cannot keep having the division that we got.”

Maher said the MMA did not say the resolutions are not unnecessary. According to the MMA, Maher added, “Resolutions are commonly done as reaffirmations. They are traditionally nonbinding, more of statement.”

Maher said he sees the resolutions as goodwill gestures.

“They are reaffirmation to understand what your roles are and what rules you will abide by,” he said.

Residents attending the meeting seemed to generally be in favor of the council attending the training session.

“Why is this such a big issue?” Jimmy Vandeboncoeur asked. “You guys need to reaffirm to the people that you are going to live up to what you’re supposed to be doing.”

“I think definitely all you should go to that training,” Milton Walker said. “If one of you doesn’t go, you should resign from the board.”

Fifield, Hackett, Emery and Councilor Nick Konstantoulakis survived a recall vote in September after the number votes required fell short by eight.

The recall election was brought after four councilors decided in June to remove Maher from office. Councilor Kieth Bennett voted against Maher’s ouster.

Maher regained the job in August after a lawsuit claimed the council did not follow state law and the town charter in the matter and the council decided not to pursue the matter any further.


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