STANDISH — The lone councilor who voted against firing Town Manager Kris Tucker said Tuesday that the termination was “a total snow job.”

The council voted 6-1 during Monday night’s special meeting to terminate Tucker’s contract without cause, meaning he is entitled to severance and health care payments. Tucker had been on the job for less than eight months.

Councilor Peter Starostecki said by phone Tuesday morning that he believes other members of the council and staff at Town Hall view Tucker “as a detriment to the status quo.”

“I’m pretty upset about it,” said Starostecki, who called Tucker a “terrific town manager” and claimed that the termination was “a total snow job.”

Council Chairman Steven Nesbitt said during the Monday meeting that he could not go into the reason behind the termination because it is a personnel matter.

“The best I can address that at this time is we performed Mr. Tucker’s six-month evaluation, the Town Council has had several discussions, and we feel it’s best to part ways at this time,” Nesbitt said.

Kris Tucker’s contract as Standish town manager required the town to pay him a lump-sum severance.

The council appointed Public Works Director Roger Mosley and Finance Director Scott Gesualdi as co-acting town managers.

The council went into executive session with town attorney Patricia Dunn of the Portland firm Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry before taking the vote.

Other than brief remarks from Nesbitt, which came in response to questions from the audience, none of the councilors made comments before the vote.

Resident Myke Russell asked if taxpayers would “get to know what’s going on” and noted that “it’s a lot of money” to go through the process of finding a new manager.

“I understand the frustration, but due to the personnel nature, we must keep it confidential,” Nesbitt said.

“It’s just very frustrating for us, only knowing what we do know, which isn’t very much,” resident Kathy Johnson said. “To think that somebody was doing a good job – what we see, seems to be doing a good job – and then just get sort of left out with nothing for information.”

Tucker was not present at the meeting Monday night and efforts to contact him for comment were not successful. Nesbitt said Tucker was informed of the upcoming termination vote last Wednesday and then placed on paid leave. The termination was effective Monday night, he said.

Tucker had served in the role since December, when he took over for longtime manager Gordy Billington.

The council voted 5-2 last October to hire Tucker over another finalist for the job. Tucker previously worked as the director of economic and community development in Northampton, Virginia, and is originally from New Hampshire.

His contract allows the town to terminate his employment without cause, but the town must pay him a lump-sum severance equal to three months’ salary. Tucker’s initial yearly salary was $100,000. Under the contract, the town also is required to maintain Tucker’s health insurance plan for three months.

Tucker was chosen to replace Billington, who had been in the role for 16 years, after a months-long search conducted with the help of the Maine-based law firm Eaton Peabody.

Nesbitt said Eaton Peabody could again be involved in the search for a new manager, which he hopes can be wrapped up in six months, with an interim manager in place within the next month.

After retiring as manager, Billington advised Tucker for about a month last winter during the transition. When contacted Tuesday, Billington said he is enjoying retirement, but he would consider returning in an interim capacity “if the town had a need.”

After Monday’s meeting, Nesbitt said the town has received communication from a lawyer regarding Tucker’s contract situation, but there had been no notice of legal action as of Monday night.

Matt Junker can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 123, or at:

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