By Katina Caraganis
SHIRLEY -- Chief Administrative Officer David Berry has until Friday afternoon to resign before selectmen begin the process of firing him, after the board voted 2-1 Monday to ask him to step down.
The majority on the board -- Selectmen Kendra Dumont and David Swain -- said Berry has not fulfilled the duties of his contract.
Berry, whose contract remains in effect until the end of this calendar year, declined comment Tuesday except to say that although he has made no final decision, he never anticipated he would resign from the position.
"It was definitely a shock to me when it came up," he said. "I think it was a quick thing to do, and I'm not sure if it was really thought through all the way, so I'd like to talk to the board more as a group before I say much more."
He said he was hoping to hold off on making his decision about resigning until after he spoke with selectmen. He said he is close to retirement age and, given the circumstances, he wasn't sure his contract with the town would be extended beyond Dec. 31.
Dumont, who did not vote for Berry when he was brought on board to manage the town, said she does not think he brought to the table what he promised during his interviews.
"When we hired Mr. Berry, we were promised we would cover his salary with the grants he would bring into the town, and he hasn't brought in a single grant to date," she said.
Dumont said that with mounting cuts in state aid, the town needs to get creative with funding mechanisms.
"With the Chapter 90 cuts from the governor, we need to pay the employees who are most productive," she said.
Swain, who made the motion to seek Berry's resignation, said the board has to come up with more than $100,000 to cut from the current operating budget, and can't support paying a salary for someone who is not contributing what he promised to the town.
"I'm not looking to lay off one person who is contributing to the town," he said, adding that he and Dumont "expressed reservations about what he has done and what he is doing now."
"We asked him to do certain things, and he never did," Swain added.
One of those things, Swain said, was to form a grant committee to help find and apply for grants that would be beneficial to the town. The committee has never been formed, and Berry has applied for only one grant in his time in the town, which the town did not receive.
Swain said Berry's position calls for him to run the day-to-day operations of the town, and he has failed to do that.
"He refuses to deal with human-resources issues," Swain said. "He defers them to us, but it's his job to deal with them."
Berry has a just-cause clause in his contract that the town could execute if Berry was not measuring up to his end of the contract.
Swain said that because Berry has not been an effective manager, he believes the selectmen have enough reason to execute the clause and begin the process of letting Berry go.
If that happens, Swain said, a hearing must first be held in which Berry can lay out his case and the reasons he believes he should stay, and selectmen can lay out their own concerns.
It will be up to Berry to decide if he wants the hearing done in closed or open session.
Selectmen are scheduled to meet Monday night and will likely discuss the next course of action.
Selectmen Chairman Andy Deveau, who cast the lone vote against the motion, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
At Monday's meeting, Deveau said the move to oust Berry is a mistake and the town could face litigation. Deveau said he didn't know it was coming.
"I was blindsided," he said.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.