Mechanic Falls Town Manager Zakk Maher sits in his office Monday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

MECHANIC FALLS —  The Town Council accepted the resignation of Town Manager Zakk Maher on Monday, agreeing on a 60-day notice.

Maher’s last day will be May 31.

Hired in 2018, Maher submitted his letter of resignation on April 1, citing a broken working relationship with the Town Council.

“This environment, where councilors refuse to communicate with me and have repeatedly sought to shorten or eliminate my contract, is untenable and so unpleasant that I have no other option but to seek alternative employment,” Maher wrote in his letter of resignation.

Maher, a resident of Poland, who is in his 30s, has had a rocky relationship with the council, culminating in the council firing him in June 2019, saying he was “not a good fit.” Under the threat of a lawsuit, the council rescinded its action two months later. Maher also threatened to resign last year when the council considered changing the length of his contract from four years to three.

While that was finally resolved through compromise, the scars remained.

“It has been made abundantly clear during recent meetings that multiple councilors cannot, or will not work with me,” Maher wrote. “This has not created for me, or the town, the most productive work arrangement to say the least. Similarly, the council has made it certain they will not entertain another employment contract when the current one expires in 2022.”

Councilor Raymond Lavoie said he accepted Maher’s resignation, but did not accept the letter of resignation.

“There are allegations in the letter that are not necessarily true,” Lavoie said. He refused to elaborate on his assertions.

Several community members spoke in support of Maher. Victoria Cleary, saying she was speaking for numerous residents, praised him for his professionalism and said, “Forcing Zakk out is an embarrassment for the town.”

Maher isn’t the only outgoing town official. Councilor John Emery offered his resignation Friday. Elected in 2019, Emery was the longest serving councilor. In his two-sentence letter of resignation, Emery did not give a reason for stepping down.

“I am writing this resignation letter to inform the town and the council of my intent to step down as councilor effective immediately. I will not be participating in Monday night’s meeting, nor any in the future,” he wrote.

“I have not talked with Councilor Emery since being informed of his resignation, so I’m not sure why he resigned,” Councilor Rose Aikman said earlier in the day Monday. “John is a friend and a respected member of the board. We will certainly miss him,”

Since his resignation came after the agenda was issued, it was too late to act on the resignation Monday. The board will take it up at its next meeting in May.

The board appoint Paula Stotts to the council, replacing Chairman Kieth Bennett, who resigned earlier this year.

In other business…

The board approved a bid from Spencer Group Paving of Turner for an extensive road project. The bid for $512,460.77, which includes paving and grinding, was the lowest of five submitted.

The council named Andrew Coleman as its 2021 Spirit of America Award winner. Coleman volunteers to maintain the town recreation fields and is involved with the youth sports programs.

The town also renewed its lease with the Before and After School Program for $100 per month.

The council again tabled a decision on appointing a new legal counsel. Maher had recommended Kristen Collins and Stephen Langsdorf from the firm Preti Flaherty. Aikman said she wanted to wait until the board had all five members, which will not happen until June at the earliest.

At a workshop prior to the meeting, the council met with the two Preti Flaherty attorneys, who talked about the services it can offer the town. Collins and Langsdorf said they had 50 combined years representing towns and cities.

The board approved an affidavit from Code Enforcement Officer Alan Plummer that says the buildings at the former Marcel Paper Mill that was heavily damaged by fire in 2018 are designated as dangerous buildings. This action will give the board power to negotiate with the property owner or demolish the buildings and bill the owner for the cost.

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