Groton Select Board votes against opting out of contract with town manager

Board members split on staying in contract with Town Manager

Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad

GROTON — The Select Board voted 3-2 Monday to remain in a contract with Town Manager Mark Haddad.

Haddad, however, isn’t sure if he wants to remain in a contract with the board.

Haddad’s current three-year contract with the town was put into effect on July 1 this year. The contract included an opt-out clause for either the Board or Haddad to skip on the second and third years of the contract.

The party opting-out must notify the other party by the end of the year.

If Haddad chooses to opt-out, he wouldn’t receive addition payment besides owed accrued benefits after June 30, 2020 or June 30, 2021 if he opted-out next year. If the entire board votes to opt-out, Haddad would receive six months severance pay in one lump sum based on his salary of the fiscal year the opt-out happened.

According to Haddad’s current contract, his salary is set at $144,275 in the first year, $147,161 the second year and $150,105 the third year.

Haddad said on Tuesday morning that the opt-out clause was something added to his contract when it was renewed last year, as the clause was not included in any of his prior contracts since he started working as Town Manager in October 2008.

It was Haddad himself who suggested putting the clause in his new contract in order to give the board, “the ability to talk about any issues that may arise.”

The board discussed potentially removing that clause for the current year during its meeting on Monday night, eventually voting to not exercise its right to opt-out of the contract.

Vice Chair Josh Degen, Clerk John Reilly and Member John Giger voted to not exercise the clause, while Chair Alison Manugian and Member Rebecca Pine voted against the motion made by Giger at the meeting.

Manugian said in a follow-up email on Tuesday that the discussion came up during the meeting so that the rest of the board and local residents “understood the possible ramifications of the clause.”

“I voted against the motion to not exercise our opt-out right as I feel that the topic merited open discussion at a future public meeting,” she added.

Pine also thought the board should take more time to think about the clause, given it was a “totally new” addition to the town contract.

“I think it’s worth us taking the time to be thoughtful and have some discussion,” she said. “This is a serious matter and I would venture to guess that most of the public did not know that this provision was in the contract and there was potential in considering it.”

“Mark’s attitude toward his job and some of the things he’s been through in the past have made him a better town manager,” Degen said at the meeting. “He’s served the town very well, so at this point I’m in favor of him fulfilling the contract we negotiated with him for at least another year.”

“I agree with Josh,” Reilly said. “I’m not going to change my mind in the next two weeks unless something drastic happens between tonight and the next time we discuss it.”

Haddad said that he has yet to make a decision on whether or not he’ll want to stick with the opt-out clause, but he will make a decision before the end of the year.