The Saco City Council on Monday will consider firing the city administrator six months after councilors offered him a new contract to persuade him to stay.

Richard Michaud, the city administrator since 1999, announced his retirement last summer, but decided to stay for another two years after councilors negotiated a contract that allows him to live outside of Saco and drive a city-owned car, along with other incentives. But that contract – negotiated while the mayor was out of town on vacation – has irked several elected officials, who say it was not done properly.

“It’s a sweetheart deal,” said Mayor Donald Pilon, who refused to sign the new contract.

On Monday, the council will consider a motion by Councilor Bette Brunswick to terminate Michaud’s contract effective March 16. He would receive six months of pay under the terms of his contract. Pilon supports the effort to terminate the contract and has hired a lawyer to represent his interests at meetings.

“It’s an open secret here in Saco that these two guys (Michaud and Pilon) can’t stand each other,” said Councilor Kevin Roche, who voted against the contract.

Brunswick also opposed the contract and said she continues to have concerns about how it was negotiated without a lawyer, and about what she calls “charter infractions and ethics violations” by Michaud. She would not discuss those accusations, saying they are personnel issues that should be addressed in executive session. An attempt on Feb. 17 to move into executive session to discuss the issue was unsuccessful.

Michaud did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Brunswick’s attempt to end the contract is not likely to gain traction with a council that seems to want Michaud to stay. Councilors were quick to offer incentives to Michaud after he announced last June he intended to retire.

“We expressed to him that we thought he did a great job and we wanted him to stay for a few years,” said Councilor Eric Cote. “We simply didn’t want to mess around with transition.”

Those negotiations took place during an executive session in August when Pilon was out of town, leading to his accusations that the council circumvented the process outlined in the city charter that says the mayor appoints a new administrator and the council may confirm it. Cote said it was a coincidence that negotiations began without Pilon, not a deliberate attempt to exclude him.

“The problem was that it was done over two executive sessions in the dog days of summer,” Roche said.

A city attorney, Timothy Murphy, has provided councilors with a written opinion that the city administrator’s contract is “lawful and enforceable.” He said the mayor’s appointment – in practice, a recommendation since the council ultimately confirms a new administrator – was not needed because Michaud was not a new hire.

Under the new contract, Michaud is paid about $121,000 per year, has a city car for commuting from his home in Dover, New Hampshire, and receives 12 percent of his salary as a contribution to his retirement plan. The contract includes language providing “incentives for the administrator to remain in employment” and which would “make possible full work productivity by assuring the administrator’s morale and peace of mind with respect to future security.”

Cote said he was surprised that the issue of Michaud’s contract has come up again. Michaud officially retired at the end of December, then returned to his job Feb. 1. He now receives a pension from the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

“I thought it was done,” Cote said.

Councilors David Precourt, Leslie Smith Jr., Arthur Tardif and Nathan Johnston did not respond to requests or could not be reached for comment.

Roche, who did not initially support Michaud’s contract because of the process under which it was negotiated, said the issue has brought to light the tension between Pilon and Michaud. He said he is not currently in favor of severing the contract, which he said seems to be valid.

“This dynamic is a huge issue in Saco right now,” Roche said. “I’d like to just move forward productively.”